Court orders Facebook to disclose source code to suing marketers

12 Apr 2011

A US court has ordered Facebook to disclose data to marketers suing the company for click fraud, including source code for systems which identify and filter out invalid clicks.

According to Media Post, US District Court Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd disagreed with Facebook when it argued it shouldn’t be forced to disclose its source code as it was a trade secret.

“The source code in this case implemented Facebook’s desired filtering, and whether that filtering lived up to Facebook’s claims and contractual obligations is the issue here,” wrote Lloyd.

The case began in 2009 when numerous marketers sued Facebook, alleging the social networking company was overcharging them on cost-per-click adverts on the site.

The marketers found discrepancies between their own analytics tools and the figures supplied by Facebook. Rootzoo, for example, said that while its analytics program showed that 300 clicks were generated by Facebook, the company was charged for 804 clicks.

Facebook countered this legal action, saying that cost-per-click advertisers had to agree to terms and conditions stating that third parties may generate clicks for fraudulent purposes and that marketing companies had to accept this risk.

However, a court said marketing companies could sue Facebook for charging them for “invalid” clicks, but not “fraudulent” ones.

While the court has ordered Facebook to disclose its source code, it also said this cannot be made public.