Is Facebook Ads illegal? Probably not, but …. one would hope this issue had been vetted prior to launch, given the launch was in New York…
There is at least one problem with this idea: It may be illegal under a 100-year-old New York privacy law. The statute says that “any person whose name, portrait, picture, or voice is used within this state for advertising purposes or for the purposes of trade without the written consent first obtained” can sue for damages. Moreover, such a use is also a criminal misdemeanor.
According to William McGeveran, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School who wrote about these laws in a blog post today, the law would apply to Facebook users anywhere if the ad were displayed in New York. Arguably, it could apply if the ad was displayed on a computer screen within the state.
I doubt this is going to go very far, but at the very least it shows a lack of due diligence…a quick change in the TOS would have addressed this.