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Facebook use not a 'fundamental right', rules judge

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A US federal judge has ruled that people do not have the "fundamental right" to use Facebook and the social network can block them if they violate its terms and conditions.

In a ruling on Thursday (November 29) in San Diego, US District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo backed Facebook over an antitrust complaint filed by Sambreel, a company that offered products allowing users to alter the appearance of their Facebook page.

Crucially, Sambreel's software also allowed users to swap out Facebook's own advertising offerings, which is the primary way that the listed firm makes money.

Facebook Like logo

© Facebook

the Facebook Photo page redesign (as of Summer 2012)

© Facebook

Facebook photo album page



Sambreel had claimed that Facebook was in breach of antitrust laws after it 'gated' members who used Sambreel products. This meant that they had to remove its software, such as 'PageRage', before they could log back in to their profile, reports GigaOM.

However, judge Bencivengo said that people cannot expect to still use Facebook if they violate the company's terms and conditions.

She said: "There is no fundamental right to use Facebook; users may only obtain a Facebook account upon agreement that they will comply with Facebook's terms, which is unquestionably permissible under the antitrust laws.

"It follows, therefore, that Facebook is within its rights to require that its users disable certain products before using its website."

Facebook's lead counsel, Craig Clark, said that the company was "pleased by the decision".

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