Facebook users have until September to see if they’re eligible for a payout.

Posted BY: CNET

Facebook has agreed to a $90 million settlement stemming from a lawsuit accusing it of tracking users across other websites, and now people can file claims if they believe they were impacted.

The plaintiffs in the case, Davis v. Facebook, claim the social-media giant was aware it violated privacy, communications and wiretap laws by tracking logged-out users, in breach of its own contract.

In 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Facebook profiting from the sale of users’ data constituted a breach of privacy that caused economic harm. When the Supreme Court declined to review the case, settlement negotiations began. In June, a district court in California gave preliminary approval for the $90 million payout.

Read on to find out what the class action lawsuit is all about, whether you’re eligible for a payout and how much recipients could receive (and when).

What is Facebook accused of in the class action suit?

The plaintiffs allege that Facebook tracked people’s activities on outside websites, even when they were signed out of their Facebook accounts, by installing cookies on users’ computers.

In a 2011 suit filed in US District Court in San Jose, California, they claimed such monitoring violated the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, among other statutes.

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That year, Facebook disclosed that it personalized content by placing cookies onto users’ computers that remained active even when they were logged out. Facebook told CNET at the time that it quickly removed uniquely identifying data from post-logout cookies and that it didn’t store or use data from cookies for tracking.

But according to the 2011 lawsuit, “This admission came only after an Australian technology blogger exposed Facebook’s practice of monitoring members who have logged out, although he brought the problems to the defendant’s attention a year ago.” 

What’s the settlement Facebook has agreed to?

Facebook parent Meta Platforms has agreed to a $90 million settlement. If approved, it will be the seventh-largest data privacy class action settlement ever. 

Meta didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment though it “expressly denies any liability or wrongdoing whatsoever,” according to court filings

Who is eligible to receive part of the Facebook settlement?

Facebook screenshot
The 2011 suit alleges Facebook’s use of cookies violated the Federal Wiretap Act and other laws. blackred/iStock/Getty Images

US Facebook users who, between April 22, 2010, and Sept. 25, 2011, visited websites that displayed the Facebook “Like” button are eligible to be recipients, or “class members.”

The claims administrator, Angeion, emailed eligible class members through July 15, 2022. If you received a personalized notice in the mail or via email, go to the claims site and enter the Notice ID and Confirmation Code you were provided with.

If you believe you’re eligible but weren’t contacted, you can also file a claim on your own through Sept. 22. Individuals who want to reserve the right to file their own lawsuit have until Sept. 12 to opt out of the settlement.

If you do nothing, you won’t get a payment and you’ll give up the right to sue or be part of another lawsuit relating to the case.

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How much money could you receive?

The court has scheduled a final approval hearing on Oct. 27, 2022, in San Jose, California, where it will consider whether the $90 million settlement is “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”

It isn’t yet clear how many class members there will be or how much each individual will receive.

In 2021, Facebook agreed to a $650 million class action settlement to a suit that alleged it broke Illinois’ biometric laws by collecting and storing users’ physical characteristics without their consent. Nearly 1.6 million Facebook users in the state each received $397 payouts. 

When will Facebook settlement checks go out?

The court will make a final decision about the settlement on Oct. 27, but there may be appeals that delay payments.

“It is always uncertain whether appeals will be filed and, if so, how long it will take to resolve them,” according to the settlement site. “Settlement payments will be distributed as soon as possible.”