Facebook Users’ Privacy Is Worth $10 Each
Facebook is finally ready to settle a massive class action that charged the social networking company violated users’ right to privacy by posting their pictures in ads without their approval.
Stories ‘Sponsored’ By Whom?
Facebook was originally sued in August 2011 in federal court in California. In August 2012, the judge rejected Facebook’s first attempt at a settlement, in which the plaintiffs didn’t get any money. At the time, the judge worried that the class action – which reportedly involves 100 million users – was “too big to settle.”
The parties submitted another try in October in which Facebook said it would pay $20 million and promised to give users the ability to opt out of the offending “sponsored stories” – a euphemism for “ads,” since users certainly weren’t “sponsoring” any stories.
Class members would be eligible for cash payments of up to $10 each, and anything left in the pot after members have claimed their fabulous awards would be shuffled off to charities.
The judge on Dec. 3 gave preliminary approval to this settlement. “We are pleased that the Court has granted preliminary approval of the proposed settlement,” a Facebook spokesperson tells Lawyers.com.
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But it’s not over yet: Other groups, including those advocating for strong protections for minors, as well as class members themselves, can still object to the deal.
According to the Silicon Valley Mercury News, at least one group – the nonprofit Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL), based at the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law – says Facebook should have to get consent from parents before using minors’ names or photos in the ads.
Robert Fellmeth, a lawyer for CPIL and a professor at USD, said he would object to the settlement and promised to appeal any final approval of the settlement without such additional protections, according to the Mercury News.
At a hearing scheduled for June 2013, the judge will decide whether to give the settlement final approval, according to Reuters.
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