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Does Facebook Owe You $10?

1/30/2013
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So, over the weekend my husband received an e-mail from Facebook.  That, in itself, is no surprise.  Like many around the world, we are now used to being barraged with e-mails from everyone’s favorite social media giant.  The body of the e-mail, however, was a little surprising.  It stated that Facebook was involved in a class action lawsuit over sponsored stories.  As a result, those involved in the suit could receive a whopping $20 million!  Wait… not really.  After lawyer fees and costs are taken out and the remaining funds are divvied up amongst the Authorized Claimants… each claimant can expect up to $10.   However, this number could be even less if more claimants become involved.  If the amount of remaining money divided by the number of claimants winds up being less than $4.99 each, then the money is given to 14 non-profits including the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.  So, apparently that’s what wrongly using your name and likeness is worth.  Some amount not to exceed $10.  In related news, the Facebook will also be revising its Terms of Service to clarify how users’ names will appear in current and future sponsored stories.  The company will also be providing a means for users to see which products they are “endorsing” and remove their “endorsement.”

So, what did Facebook actually do to you?  The suit, “Fraley vs. Facebook,” deals with the fact that in 2011, Facebook began to put users in sponsored stories based on brands and items that people “liked.”  Forbes explains that the ads did not always reflect the context in which people actually “liked” things.  This could result in inaccurate or embarrassing sponsored stories being shown.  Beyond simply never “liking” anything, there was no way to opt out of sponsored stories.  I can only imagine the goofy sponsored story by husband got himself involved in….I’m guessing something like “Will likes…Chicago Style Pizza?  90’s one-hit wonders?  Refusing to stop and ask for directions?”  Any one of those could be true. 

A few months after Facebook announced its use of the sponsored stories, a Seattle seamstress named Angel Fraley and many others filed suit in California.  Fraley lent her name to the suit but later removed herself after stating that Facebook was using aggressive tactics.  In the summer of 2012, the two parties reached a settlement but a judge rejected it on grounds that neither side explained how they arrived at the figures outlined in the deal.  In December of 2012, Facebook agreed to pay $20 million into the settlement fund…and here we are.

Now, if you are anything like my husband and me, your first thought was “well, this is some scam.”  When we received the e-mail, we started Googling phrases like “Facebook, lawsuit, hoax” and “Facebook, class action, scam.”  While I found some message boards with people claiming conspiracies, the general consensus was that the e-mail was the real deal.  Forbes Magazine actually reported that the suit is real and not a phishing scam of some kind.

If you received the e-mail, you have until May 2, 2013 to submit your claim, exclude yourself, or object.  If you do nothing, you will not receive any funds nor will you be able to bring forward your own suit.  Act now for your shot at up to $10...or nothing if a bunch more people join.  Exciting...

Nicole

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