In an era where data privacy has taken center stage, one of the biggest tech giants, Meta (formerly known as Facebook), had to face a massive class action lawsuit over its privacy policies. This Facebook lawsuit is a landmark case in the realm of digital privacy, with the company agreeing to pay out $725 million in settlement to its users.
The Genesis of the Facebook Lawsuit
The Cambridge Analytica Scandal
The Facebook class action lawsuit roots back to the notorious Cambridge Analytica scandal. In 2018, revelations showed that Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, unlawfully procured data from 87 million Facebook users. They inappropriately used this data to create detailed voter profiles, targeting U.S. voters during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Fallout and Legal Actions
The revelation sparked a global outrage, leading many users to delete their Facebook accounts and severely tarnishing the company’s reputation as a custodian of user data. In response, a Facebook user in Maryland filed a proposed class action lawsuit in March 2018 for other affected users. This initial lawsuit was later merged with seven similar ones, culminating in the historic class action lawsuit.
Facebook’s Response and Settlement Agreement
In the face of mounting legal pressure, Meta (then Facebook) agreed to a tentative settlement agreement on August 27, 2022. The company formally consented to a $725 million payout on December 23, 2022, and a federal judge issued a tentative approval in late March 2023. However, the settlement agreement faced opposition from several class members, leading to a final hearing on September 7.
Approval of the Facebook Settlement
Despite the objections, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria approved the Facebook settlement on October 10. Affected parties were given a 30-day window, until November 9, to file appeals against the judgment.
Claim Submission and Eligibility
The claim submission phase was open until August 25, 2022. Eligible claimants were U.S. Facebook users active on the platform between May 24, 2007, and December 22, 2022. They didn’t need to substantiate that third parties obtained their data to file a claim. Out of the estimated 250 million U.S. Facebook users, they filed 28 million claims, marking it as the largest number of claims ever filed in a U.S. class action.
Claim Verification and Rejections
The arduous task of verifying the settlement administrator, Angeion, undertook the claims. Out of the 28 million claims, they have preliminarily validated 17 million. However, they rejected around 500,000 claims for various reasons, such as mismatched usernames, email addresses, and phone numbers. Claimants with rejected applications were notified via email and given ten days to appeal the decision.
The Facebook settlement payout per person heavily depends on various factors. Key among them is the length of the user’s active period on Facebook. Long-term users stand to receive the most significant payouts. However, they will deduct legal and administrative fees from the settlement fund before distribution. Reports suggest that the median payout could be around $30.
Facebook Settlement Payout Timeline and Current Status
The court has yet to confirm the Facebook settlement payout date. According to Judge Chhabria’s order, payments will commence “90 days after the effective date”. Thus, claimants can expect payouts to begin roughly around January 8, 2024. However, pending appeals could delay the payment process.
Checking Your Claim Status
The Facebook Meta lawsuit serves as a stark reminder of the importance of data privacy in today’s digital age. While the final payouts may not be substantial for individual users, the collective impact of the settlement marks a significant victory for consumer privacy rights.
As we continue to navigate the digital landscape, cases like the Facebook privacy lawsuit underscore the need for vigilance, transparency, and accountability from tech giants. It’s a wake-up call for these companies to uphold user privacy and data security, reinforcing the fact that failure to do so can result in hefty financial and reputational costs.
Facebook Lawsuit FAQ
What is the Facebook settlement payout timeline?
Facebook will begin payouts around January 8, 2024.
What is the estimated Facebook settlement payout?
The average payout should be around $30.
Am I eligible for the Facebook settlement payout?
If you were a resident of the U.S. and a Facebook user between 5/24/07 and 12/22/22, you would be eligible. However, the deadline to claim the Facebook settlement was August 25, 2023.
How much does Facebook have to pay?
The company agreed to a $725 million payout on December 23, 2022