Let me tell you a brief but true story about Facebook settlements:
A couple of years ago, my husband and I saw an article about a Facebook lawsuit settlement in Illinois. We’d lived in the state and used Facebook during the dates the settlement covered, so we took two minutes to fill out a simple form.
Then we forgot about it.
Last year, we each got a $397 check from Facebook in the mail.
(Told you it would be brief.)
When people see headlines about lawsuit settlements, they often assume either that they aren’t eligible or that receiving part of the settlement will involve a whole bunch of red tape. It’s often just as simple as it sounds, though, and people who assume otherwise leave money on the table.
Right now, there’s a $725 million settlement that anyone who used Facebook between May 24, 2007, and December 22, 2022 is eligible to submit a claim for. The form takes just a couple of minutes to fill out, so if you’re like, “Yes, sign me up!” here’s the link to the website. (I promise it’s legit, despite sounding like a fake URL. I went through this with the Illinois settlement as well. This is just how these things are done in the internet age.)
You can either fill out your claim on the website or print it out and mail it to: Facebook Consumer Privacy User Profile Litigation, c/o Settlement Administrator, 1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
The form just took me 2 1/2 minutes to submit. I timed it, and that included getting a verification code sent to my email and having to re-find the claim form window because I have too many tabs open. (You have until August 25, 2023, so no big rush.)
If you’re not sure yet and you want to know what the heck this is all about before you fill out a form, here’s the background info:
If you click on “What’s this lawsuit about?” in the FAQ section, here’s the synopsis:
“Numerous lawsuits were brought on behalf of Facebook users who allege that Facebook (now Meta Platforms, Inc.) shared or otherwise made accessible to third parties (including but not limited to third-party app developers, “whitelisted” parties, business partners, advertisers, and data brokers) user data and data about users’ friends without permission of the users whose data was shared, and did not sufficiently monitor and enforce third-party access or use of that data.”
Basically, our data was shared without our permission. Neato. But that sounds a little vague, right? Surely there’s something specific that prompted this settlement, right?
Well, yes. Do you remember the 2016 election? Yes, that one. In the two years leading up to that election, a data analytics company called Cambridge Analytica allegedly paid Facebook developers for Facebook user data, which it used to target voters in the election. Cambridge Analytica is tied to deep-pocketed Republicans and Trump’s former campaign manager, Steve Bannon, so it’s not a big stretch to guess who benefited from this data privacy violation.
Of course, Cambridge Analytica is not the only third party to collect data from Facebook without user knowledge, it’s just the most well-known. At any rate, all of us who were Facebook users for the past 16 years are eligible for a payout from the company, whether our specific data was shared or not.
The big question is how much each person will get. Nobody knows, and the final amount will depend in part on how many people submit a claim. Lawyers will take their cut as well, so I’ll be surprised to get another $390+ payment. But for two minutes of form-filling, even a much smaller amount would be worth it.
Find the claim form website here.