Last week and over the weekend, many Facebook users received an e-mail in regard to a Facebook settlement agreement. It is legitimate. The email was titled “Legal Notice of Settlement of Class Action" and Facebook users were informed that they might be entitled to be part of a settlement agreement with Facebook, reports San Diego’s 10News on Jan. 28, 2013.
The law firm who is handling the class action lawsuit and settlement “Fraley, et al. v. Facebook, Inc., et al., Case No. CV-11-01726 RS,” is stating in its overview of the proposed settlement that,
“A class action lawsuit against Facebook, Inc. ('Facebook') claimed that Facebook unlawfully used Class Members’ names, profile pictures, photographs, likenesses, and identities to advertise or sell products and services through Sponsored Stories, without obtaining Class Members’ consent.”
The class action lawsuit and settlement with Facebook followed the case of Angel Fraley versus Facebook and it was filed by several Facebook users who complained that their names and photos were used illegally in “Sponsored Stories” by Facebook.
Facebook users whose name, profile picture, or photographs, have been used in “Sponsored Stories” by Facebook prior to Dec. 3, 2012, without consent are eligible to receive part of the settlement money.
According to the class action lawsuit and settlement agreement which can be viewed in its entity as pdf document, Facebook has agreed to “pay $20 million into a fund that can be used, in part, to pay claims of Class Members (including Minor Subclass Members) who appeared in a ‘Sponsored Story’.”
Facebook users can take any of the following action.
- Submit a Claim Form: “This is the only way to be eligible to receive a payment, if the Court orders payment to Class Members.” The deadline to submit a claim form is May 2, 2013.
- Exclude oneself from the claim: “This is the only option that allows you to retain the ability to file your own lawsuit about the legal claims in this case.” The deadline to exclude oneself from the claim is May 2, 2013.
- Object to the claim: “Write to the Court about why you object to (i.e., don’t like) the Settlement and think it shouldn’t be approved.” The deadline to object is May 2, 2013.
- Go to the Fairness Hearing: “The Court will hold a 'Fairness Hearing' on June 28, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. to consider the Settlement, the request for attorneys’ fees and expenses of the lawyers who brought the Action ('Class Counsel'), and the class representatives’ request for service awards for bringing the Action. You may, but are not required to, speak at the Fairness Hearing about any Objection you filed. If you intend to speak at the Fairness Hearing, you must follow the procedures set forth in the Notice when you serve your Objection.” The hearing date is June 28, 2013, at 10:00 a.m.
- Do nothing: “You will not receive a payment, even if the Court orders payment to Class Members. You will also be giving up your right to bring your own lawsuit related to the claims in the Action.”
The settlement webpage provides links to fill out any of the above forms. The settlement webpage also informs that “The Court in charge of this Action has preliminarily approved the Settlement and must decide whether to give final approval to the Settlement. The relief provided to Class Members will be provided only if the Court gives final approval to the Settlement and, if there are any appeals, after the appeals are resolved in favor of the Settlement.“
Unfortunately, the settlement agreement also states that “Each participating Class Member may be eligible to receive up to $10.”
While most Facebook users might not consider $10 worth the time to read the settlement agreement or to participate in the claim, knowing what Facebook can and cannot do with someone’s personal information and pictures might be worth much more than money.