What just happened? Did you use Facebook between May 24, 2007, and Dec 22, 2022? Most people will probably answer yes, which means they're owed some money from parent company Meta following a $725 million privacy lawsuit settlement. But don't start planning on buying a Ferrari just yet.
Last December, Meta agreed to pay $725 million to settle a long-running class-action lawsuit over sharing users' personal data with third parties. The suit came four years after Facebook's biggest privacy scandal to date, Cambridge Analytica, in which the now-defunct British political consulting firm harvested the personal data of almost 90 million users without their consent for targeted political ads during the 2016 US presidential campaign and the UK's Brexit referendum.
That settlement was tentatively agreed by a judge last month, and now users can submit a claim, which must be done by 11:59 pm PT on August 25, 2023. Forms can be submitted online, requested by phone, or printed and mailed to the settlement administrator.
Only those who lived in the US between May 24, 2007, and Dec. 22, 2022, are eligible for a payout. Anyone who deleted their Facebook account since the end of 2022 must provide the dates they used the social network.
Exactly how much each person will receive is unknown, but the longer you had an active account during the timeframe, the more you will get. It's worth noting that the $725 million settlement includes legal and administrative fees, and individual amounts depends on how many people submit claims. Facebook has around 243 million users in the US, which, if the majority of them applied, wouldn't leave much to go around. Still, free money is free money. You can choose to receive your share via prepaid Mastercard, PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, a direct deposit, or a paper check.
The final settlement hearing is set for September 7, 2023, so don't expect any payments before then. The money will be distributed as soon as possible once the court grants final approval, though there could be appeals that might delay the payouts.
Anyone who wants to sue Meta separately must request to opt out of the settlement no later than July 26; otherwise, they will surrender their right to start, continue, or join a lawsuit against the company.