By Jack Phillips
Facebook users have until August 2023 to claim part of a $725 million class-action settlement of a lawsuit that claimed the company’s parent Meta violated their privacy, according to a new website that went online this week.
“If you were a Facebook user in the United States between May 24, 2007, and December 22, 2022, inclusive, you may be eligible for a cash payment from a Class Action Settlement,” the new website says, in part. “Your rights are affected whether you act or don’t act. Please read the Notice carefully,” it adds.
Those users, which likely encompass the vast majority of American Facebook users who currently have an account on the social media platform, have until Aug. 25, 2023, to submit a claim form.
“The only way to receive a cash payment from this Settlement is by submitting a timely and properly completed Claim Form that obtains approval from the Settlement Administrator. The Claim Form must be submitted no later than August 25, 2023,” the site says.
Users can either submit an online form or download the form and mail it to the settlement administrator. If the claim is accepted by the administrator, those users will have to give up their right to file a lawsuit against Facebook in connection to the claims.
Why Did Facebook Agree to Pay?
The case and subsequent settlement sprang from 2018 reports that Cambridge Analytica had paid a Facebook app developer for access to the personal information of around 87 million users of Facebook. That data was then allegedly used to have targeted U.S. voters during the 2016 campaign, according to the suit.
The two sides reached a temporary settlement agreement last August, just a few weeks before a Sept. 20 deadline for Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his long-time chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, to submit to depositions.
The company based in Menlo Park, California, said in a statement late last year that it pursued a settlement because it was in the best interest of its community and shareholders. Meta also denied the allegations in the lawsuit but agreed to pay the settlement for a variety of reasons.
“Over the last three years we revamped our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy program,” said spokesperson Dina El-Kassaby Luce. “We look forward to continuing to build services people love and trust with privacy at the forefront.”
Were You Impacted?
You must have lived in the United States between May 24, 2007, and Dec. 22, 2022. It means that residents of, for instance, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, European countries, and any other country cannot apply.
People who deleted their Facebook account since the end of 2022 but want some of the settlement money have to provide a date range when they were a Facebook user, according to the website.
The number of Facebook users who could be eligible range from between 250 million to 280 million, say court papers.
When Can You Receive the Money and How Much?
A final approval hearing is slated for Sept. 7, 2023, to consider whether to approve the settlement. There could be future appeals, which would delay the payment.
The date of the hearing could also be changed due to a variety of reasons.
It’s not clear how much each claimant will receive as the settlement payment amount depends on how many submit claims to the administrator. They will also have to show how long they were a Facebook user during the eligibility period, which will factor into the payment amount.
“Settlement payments will be distributed as soon as possible if the Court grants Final Approval of the Settlement and after any appeals are resolved,” the claim website’s FAQ explains.
How to Claim Your Share?
Each settlement class member can submit only one claim relating to the suit. The funds will be sent via your choice of a prepaid Mastercard or payment services like PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, or a direct bank deposit.
“Unless you opt out of the settlement, you are automatically part of the Settlement. If you do nothing, you will not get a payment from this Settlement and you will give up the right to sue, continue to sue, or be part of another lawsuit against the Defendant related to the legal claims or factual allegations resolved by this Settlement,” it says.
Facebook users have to include their name, address, email address, and confirm that they lived in the United States and were using Facebook between May 24, 2007, and Dec. 22, 2022, the form shows.