By Aimee Picchi
Anyone in the U.S. who used Facebook in the last 16 years can now collect a piece of a $725 million settlement by parent company Meta tied to privacy violations — as long as they fill out a claim on a website set up to pay out money to the social network's users.
The settlement stems from multiple lawsuits that were brought against Facebook by users who claimed that the company improperly shared their data with third-party sources such as advertisers and data brokers. The litigation began after Facebook was embroiled in a privacy scandal in 2018 with Cambridge Analytica, whichscraped user data from the site as part of an effort to profile voters.
Meta denied any liability or wrongdoing under the settlement, according to the recently created class-action website. However, the agreement means that U.S. residents who used Facebook between May 24, 2007, and December 22, 2022, can file a monetary claim as long as they do so before August 25, 2023.
How do I claim money under the Facebook settlement?
Go to the claim websiteto fill out your claim, or else print out the claim and mail it to this address: Facebook Consumer Privacy User Profile Litigation, c/o Settlement Administrator, 1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
What information do I need to provide?
The claim asks for basic information:
- Your name
- Your address
- Your email
- Your phone
- If you resided in the U.S. between May 24, 2007, and December 22, 2022
- If you were a Facebook user between May 24, 2007, and December 22, 2022
- If you deleted your account in that period, the date range when you were a Facebook user
- Your Facebook user name
- The payment service you prefer, such as PayPal, Venmo or a prepaid Mastercard
How long does it take to fill out the form?
It should take only a few minutes.
How do I find my Facebook name?
You can find it on Facebook's website by going to "Account" and then clicking on "Settings and Privacy." From there, click on "Settings," where you should see "Username."
On the mobile app, go to the menu and then click on your display name on top of the screen. Then select the "..." next to "Edit Profile" and your user name appears under "Your Profile Link."
Can I file for more than one Facebook account?
The claim administrator says that if you created but deleted one or more Facebook accounts, and then later created a new Facebook account, you can claim for the full amount of time you had an activated Facebook account during that time.
However, if you had multiple accounts at the same time, you can't get a claim for those extra accounts. In other words, no double-counting, according to the claim administrator.
Can I file for a deceased person?
Yes, but it takes a few extra steps.
First, file the claim under the name of the deceased person and fill out their details in the "Your Facebook Account" section of the claim form.
Next, you'll have to provide the claim settlement administrator with a request to change the name to the beneficiary or the estate of the claimant. To do that, you'll have to provide documentation showing the reason for the name change, such as a copy of the death certificate. Send an email to the administrator through its secure portal with the explanation and the documents that demonstrate the need for the change.
The secure portal will allow you to send an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the subject line: "Name Change – Facebook User Privacy Settlement" and include the claim ID from the claim confirmation, as well as the full name of the deceased person. The site will also ask you to register with your email and password.
You can also mail the documentation to:
Facebook User Privacy Settlement
Attn: Name Change
1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Is the Facebook settlement legit?
Yes, according to Meta.
"We pursued a settlement as it's in the best interest of our community and shareholders," a Meta spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch. "We are notifying people through their Facebook notifications about this settlement so they can decide whether to participate."
How much money will I get?
That's unclear, because the settlement amount per user will depend on how many people fill out a claim, according to the settlement website.
However, the lawyers involved in the case are likely to take a portion of the settlement as part of their fees. The claim website notes that they could be awarded up to 25% of the settlement — or $181.3 million. If they receive that much, the settlement will be reduced to $543.7 million for the Facebook users who ask for part of the claim.
Each claimant will get one point for each month when they had an "activated" Facebook account between May 24, 2007, and December 22, 2022. The settlement administrator will add up all the points assigned to all claimants and then divide the net settlement amount by that number.
Each claimant will receive that per point amount multiplied by the number of points they were assigned, meaning that people who have been on Facebook for shorter periods of time would likely get a lower settlement amount.
When will I get the money?
Not until later this year at the earliest.
The claims site notes that there is a final approval hearing for the settlement on September 7, when the court will decide whether to approve the deal and award attorneys' fees and other costs. If the settlement is approved, the case could still face appeals, which would take an unknown amount of time to be resolved, the website notes.
"Settlement payments will be distributed as soon as possible if the court grants final approval of the settlement and after any appeals are resolved," it notes.
Can I opt out of the settlement — and if so, why should I?
Yes, Facebook users can opt out of the settlement. One possible reason to do so is if you want to keep your right to separately sue the company about the issues and allegations in the case, according to the settlement website.
To opt out, you'll have to send a request online or via mail before July 26, the site notes. To send the request in writing, you'll have to include the information below:
- The case name — In re: Facebook, Inc. Consumer Privacy User Profile Litigation, Case No. 3:18-md-02843-VC (N.D. Cal.)
- Your name and current address
- Your signature
- A statement "clearly indicating your intent to be excluded from the settlement"
- Your Facebook account URL
- A statement that you were a Facebook user between May 24, 2007, and December 22, 2022
What if I don't do anything?
If you neither file a claim nor opt out of the settlement, you give up your right to file a lawsuit, continue a suit or be part of any other litigation against Facebook about the legal issues involved in the case. You also won't get to collect any of the settlement money, according to the site.
Are there people who are excluded from the settlement?
Aside from those who opt out of the settlement, people who work for Meta, affiliated companies or subsidiaries as well as the attorneys for the plaintiff and their employees can't join the settlement. The special master, mediators and judges involved in the case can't participate either.
The settlement also doesn't cover users outside the U.S. or people who weren't Facebook users at any time between May 24, 2007, and December 22, 2022.
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