Anyone in the United States who had a Facebook account in the past 16 years has roughly one week left to file for payment in a data privacy settlement case.
Facebook's parent, Meta, in December agreed to pay $725 million to settle a host of privacy-related class action lawsuits alleging, among other things, that Facebook let third parties access its users' private data and that of their friends without users' permission.
That includes roughly 70 million US-based users' private Facebook data that was accessed by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which had been working for the Trump presidential campaign in 2016.
That private information may have included everything from birthdays and hometowns to more personal information, such as private messages.
Here's what you need to know if you're considering making a claim in the case:
Who is eligible to file a claim?
If you were a user of Facebook in the United States for any period between May 24, 2007, and December 22, 2022, you may file a claim.
When is the deadline to file?
You must submit your claim using this form by 11:59 pm PT on Friday, August 25 if you're filing online. If you are filing by mail, your envelope must be postmarked by August 25.
How much will I be paid?
That depends on three factors: 1) how many people file valid claims; 2) how long you were an active Facebook user between May 24, 2007 and December 22, 2022; and 3) what the total net settlement fund will be after administrative, legal and other costs are subtracted.
Based on how long you were a Facebook user, Meta notes that the settlement administrator will award one point for each month you had an activated account. The administrator will then add up all the points assigned to all valid claimants and divide the net settlement amount by that total number of points. That will determine how much you would be paid for each month you were an active user.
Using an oversimplified example, if the net settlement amount is $100 and the total number of points for all claimants adds up to 500, you would be paid 20 cents ($100/500) for every month you had an open account between May 2007 and December 2022. If your account was activated for, say, 52 months you would receive $10.40 (20 cents x 52 months). If it was activated all 187 months of that period you would receive $37.40.
When will I be paid?
It's not clear yet.
Once everyone's claims are in, there will be a final approval hearing for the settlement of the case. That hearing is scheduled for September 7 at 1 pm PT, according to the Facebook user privacy settlement website.
If the settlement is approved but there are appeals, that will delay when you might get a payment. "Settlement payments will be distributed as soon as possible if the Court grants Final Approval of the Settlement and after any appeals are resolved," according to an extensive FAQ sheet on the settlement site.
And if the court changes the date of the approval hearing, the updated day and time will appear on that site.
Can I still sue Facebook?
Facebook users were allowed to "opt out" of being in the settlement class and preserve their right to sue. But the deadline for doing so - July 26 - has already passed.
By joining the "settlement class," and claiming a payment, you will no longer be able to sue Facebook or join others' lawsuits against Facebook for matters covered by the settlement. Page 15 of the settlement agreement details the legal claims you are giving up.
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