Monday, August 9, 2010

Social Media Shenanigans?

Last month I blogged about a dispute between Westwood College, Inc., a for-profit college, and some of its former students who contend that the school violated consumer protection laws. The plaintiffs were allegedly recruited through a Facebook page, Warnings About Westwood, and a website,, both of which were started and maintained by a law firm in Tampa, Florida that is representing the students. Westwood has filed a defamation lawsuit against the law firm, alleging that it was smeared by the law firm's use of social media like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about Westwood.

Westwood is not the only company that has filed suit alleging it is a victim of social media. Corporate Counsel is reporting that on August 2, 2010, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. filed a lawsuit in federal court in Boston against Decas Cranberry Sales, Inc. Ocean Spray alleges that Decas hired InkHouse Media + Marketing to develop a "false and misleading social media campaign." Ocean Spray contends that InkHouse, on behalf of Decas, launched a website called "," which reported that Ocean Spray was selling a sweetened dried cranberry product made largely from corn syrup and few cranberries. According to Ocean Spray, the site made no mention of Decas; instead it was attributed to "the Scamberry Initiative" and described as "a consumer education initiative about mislabeling." In addition to the website, Ocean Spray also alleges that Decas used "internet blogs . . . , Facebook accounts, YouTube videos and Twitter postings that . . . led consumers to believe that [ was] an independent non-profit consumer advocacy group" rather than Decas itself. Ocean Spray alleges Decas' actions violated the Agricultural Fair Practices Act, the Lanham Act, and the Massachusetts Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The Corporate Counsel article about the Ocean Spray lawsuit can be found here.

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