MIAMI (CN) - Black Entertainment Television disabled a Facebook fan page for its "The Game" reality show after the woman who set it up and runs it refused to sell the page to the station, the woman claims court.
Stacey Mattocks sued Black Entertainment Television LLC (BET) for tortious interference, breach of contract, and copyright infringement, in Federal Court.
Mattocks claims that in 2008 she created a fan page on Facebook for the show based on professional football players' lives.
"In or about April 2010, due in large part to Mattocks' growing FB [Facebook] page, which at the time had over 750,000 'likes,' Black Entertainment Network (BET) picked up the show and began to produce new episodes for air January 2011," the complaint states.
It continues: "By October 2010, the FB page had approximately 1.3 million 'likes.' Recognizing the impact that Mattocks was having on the show's popularity, BET reached out to Mattocks and asked if she would post various links and promotional stories about the show on the FB page to help create excitement and 'buzz' in advance of the show's premier on January 11, 2011. Mattocks agreed to help with the show's promotion."
In November 2010, BET offered her $30 an hour to work on it "as a social media freelancer," she says in the complaint.
The next month it upped its offer to $85,000 a year, Mattocks claims. She says she refused, because the offer was "unreasonably low," and would have stripped her of rights to the page.
"Undeterred by Mattock's refusal to sell the page, BET 'wine-and-dined' Mattocks in the weeks and days leading up to the show's premier," she says in the lawsuit. "For example, BET flew Mattocks out to Los Angeles, California for promotional interviews, 'red carpet treatment,' and a screening of the show's premiere.
"When the show premiered on January 11, 2011, the FB page had approximately 3.3 million 'likes.' The premiere was the top ad-supported scripted series premiere in cable history and was viewed by 7.7 million viewers. The show also generated the highest amount of social media buss of all other prime-time television shows.
"In newspaper and magazine articles, Mattocks was credited by BET executives for playing a critical role in reviving interest in the show and making it a massive success with viewers.
"Due to substantial impact that the FB page had on the popularity of the show, BET again inquired whether Mattocks would transfer ownership of her page to BET. Mattocks again declined.
"Suddenly, on or about February 8, 2011, Facebook disabled Mattocks' Facebook account, including the FB page.
"BET subsequently contacted Facebook to inform them that a 'mistake' had been made and that the FB page should be restored.
"The following day, Facebook restored Mattocks' account.
"On February 10, 2011, just two days after Facebook 'mistakenly' disabled Mattocks' account, BET requested that Mattocks provide them with 'administrative access' to her FB page, such that BET would be able to post articles, links, videos, etc. to the FB page, in case Mattocks' account was ever 'mistakenly' disabled again."
Mattocks says she consented to this.
"By June 2011, the FB page had approximately 5 million 'likes'," the complaint states.
"In or about December 2011, Mattocks noticed that BET had suddenly created its own Facebook page for the show in an apparent attempt to unfairly compete with Mattocks' FB page. However, despite BET's efforts, its newly created Facebook page was unable to generate a substantial following."
Mattocks claims BET offered her $15,000 for her page and the Twitter account she had created. She says she asked for $1.2 million, which BET rejected.
So, Mattocks says, she downgraded BET's administrative access from manager to moderator, and BET countered by "immediately" asking Facebook to remove her page and suspend her Twitter account for the show.
"By Aug. 31, 2012, BET's FB page for the show, which previously had approximately 900 'likes,' suddenly had amassed an alleged 6.2 million 'likes,'" according to the complaint.
With her Facebook page and Twitter account gone, Mattocks lost revenue she had been receiving from Amazon.com and Google AdSense, she says.
"By directing Facebook to remove the FB page under false pretenses, BET intentionally and unjustifiably interfered with the contract between Mattocks and Facebook," Mattocks says in the lawsuit.
She seeks consequential and punitive damages, and a court order that Facebook restore her page.
She is represented by Alexander Brown with Tripp Scott in Fort Lauderdale.