If you’re a registered user of Facebook, there’s a good chance you may have some free money coming your way.
Before you write this off as another Internet hoax, check your spam folders in your email for any messages claiming to be from Facebook’s legal team (from the email address “email@example.com”). If they mention a class action suit over Facebook”s use of personal photos in their Sponsored Stories posts, then you are officially someone who can claim compensation as a result of Facebook’s latest foible.
Essentially, Facebook was caught in the act of using the photos of individual Facebook users for their sponsored advertisements (the Sponsored Stories you sometimes see on the sidebars when logged in)–without their consent (and sometimes knowledge). Never a company to want additional negative publicity, Facebook offered to settle with a sum of $20 million to avoid court proceedings. The courts and involved parties agreed and thus this class action lawsuit settlement was born.
How much can you earn?
This is the tricky part as the lawsuit, in total, will award $20 million to users whose photos were used. The amount provided to each user varies depending upon how many people claim compensation (although the maximum amount for each person is capped at $10). The huge caveat here is that if too many people submit claims, there will be no money paid out to individual users.
Instead, the money will be distributed to a number of non-profit organizations who specialize in teaching adults and children about technology and the effective, responsible use of social media. Of course if you had been one of the original three people to bring this case to light, you’d be looking at a payday of up to $12,500!
What are my options?
As with any class action suit, you can submit a claim form, exclude yourself, object the settlement, attend the Fairness Hearing scheduled for June 28, 2013 or do absolutely nothing. If you decide to take any course of action, the deadline to submit your intent to do so is May 2, 2013.
How do you submit your claim?
The big debate surrounding this lawsuit isn’t so much about Facebook’s illegal use of private users’ photos as it is about the social experiment regarding how many people will file a claim knowing that if too many file, nobody other than the non-profits and original claimants will receive a penny. If you’re convinced you won’t be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and want to submit your claim to re-coup money from Facebook, you can do so by visiting the suit’s website, www.fraleyfacebooksettlement.com
Good luck, Penny Hoarders!