Facebook's Class-Action Privacy Suit Could Pay You $10

Monday, 28 Jan 2013 12:49 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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A $20 million class action privacy lawsuit against Facebook is forcing the social media giant to shell out $10 to affected users, if the math is right and as long as the money lasts, according to Forbes.

In 2011, a group of plaintiffs sued Facebook in California, claiming the company violated the law by using their names and likenesses in "Sponsored Story" advertisements without their permission or compensating them for the profits.

According to the lawsuit, the ads publicized Facebook users' names and photos in "Sponsored Stories" in friends' news feed based on users "Likes." The ads, however, didn't always reflect what users actually liked.

An Iowa man, for instance, posted a link on his Facebook wall to an Amazon posting for a 55-gallon vat of sexual lubricant he found amusing as a joke. He then started appearing on his friends' news feeds as a "Sponsored Story," where the context changed from a funny posting to a sales pitch.

The case was settled in December, when Facebook and plaintiff lawyers agreed on a cash payment of up to $10 for some users, from a $20 million total settlement fund, according to Forbes, and people are now beginning to receive notices via email about their entitlements.

If the demand is too high, the money will instead go to several non-profits that work on privacy issues. If the amount of money divided by the number of claimants comes out to less than $4.99 each, the money goes to the non-profits.

As part of the settlement, Facebook will also engineer a new tool to enable users to view content that might have been displayed in "Sponsored Stories", where they can opt out if they desire, according to court documents.

Facebook has nearly 168 million users in the U.S.

Confused Facebook users have been taking to Twitter to vent about the suit.

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