[Update:In response to the company’s February 2019motion to dismiss, U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman has ruled that Googlemust face the proposed class actionover allegations that those who signed up for the search giant’s “Local Guides” program were deceived by the offer of a supposedly free terabyte of data storage.
The judge shot down the motion to dismiss on the grounds that the plaintiff “successfully alleged the existence of a binding offer from Google” that the company allegedly breached. The order can be readhere.]
Google is the defendant in a proposed class action lawsuit that alleges the company misrepresented one of the incentives it offered to unpaid “local guides” tasked with improving Google Maps and Google Earth products. The case charges Google offered top-level local guides a purportedly free terabyte of data storage without disclosing that the terabyte would be free for only two years.
According to the suit, Google kicked off its “Local Guides” program, for which locals physically present in a particular location are tasked with lending knowledge and insight, in 2015 as a way to crowdsource improvements for its Maps and Earth products. Another purpose of Google’s Local Guides program, the case explains, was to have locals photograph and comment on businesses and other locations worldwide to boost the quality and quantity of reviews, which would, in turn, the lawsuit says, bump up Google’s page views and ad revenue.
While local guides are not paid by Google, participation in the program is encouraged through what the suit calls “thank you gifts,” as well as invitations to events for top-level local guide reviewers who have moved up the ranks by submitting more reviews. One of these thank you gifts, offered to local guides who achieved “Level 4 status,” the complaint states, was a free terabyte of data storage. Unbeknownst to local guides, this immense amount of storage was only free for two years, the lawsuit alleges.
The case claims Google’s misrepresentation of its terabyte thank you gift was intentional and attempted to induce local guides into performing work that benefited the company. Worse, the lawsuit goes on, many terabyte subscribers had already moved data onto Google’s storage platform before learning they must pay $10 per month once the two-year free period had expired.