Fact Check

Class Action Lawsuit: Angel Fraley v. Facebook

Some Facebook users are eligible to claim a payout from the settlement of the 'Fraley v. Facebook' class action lawsuit?

Published Jan 28, 2013


Claim:   Some Facebook users are eligible to claim a payout from the settlement of the Fraley v. Facebook class action lawsuit.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, January 2013]

I got this in email. Is it real or some kind of scam?


You are receiving this e-mail because you may have been featured in a "Sponsored Story" on Facebook prior to December 3, 2012. A federal court authorized this Notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.

Why did I get this notice? This Notice relates to a proposed settlement ("Settlement") of a class action lawsuit ("Action") filed against Facebook relating to a particular Facebook feature called "Sponsored Stories." According to available records, you may be a "Class Member."

What is the Action about? The Action claims that Facebook unlawfully used the names, profile pictures, photographs, likenesses, and identities of Facebook users in the United States to advertise or sell products and services through Sponsored Stories without obtaining those users' consent. Facebook denies any wrongdoing and any liability whatsoever. No court or other entity has made any judgment or other determination of any liability.

What is a Sponsored Story? Sponsored Stories are a form of advertising that typically contains posts which appeared on facebook.com about or from a Facebook user or entity that a business, organization, or individual has paid to promote so there is a better chance that the posts will be seen by the user or entity's chosen audience. Sponsored Stories may be displayed, for example, when a Facebook user interacts with the Facebook service (including sub-domains, international versions, widgets, plug-ins, platform applications or games, and mobile applications) in certain ways, such as by clicking on the Facebook "Like" button on a business's, organization's, or individual's Facebook page. Sponsored Stories typically include a display of a Facebook user's Facebook name (i.e., the name the user has associated with his or her Facebook account) and/or profile picture (if the user has uploaded one) with a statement describing the user's interaction with the Facebook service, such as "John Smith likes UNICEF," "John Smith played Farmville," or "John Smith shared a link."


Origins:   In January 2013 many Facebook users received e-mail messages bearing a subject line of "LEGAL NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION." The lawsuit it references, Fraley v. Facebook, is a real one, stemming
from Facebook’s Sponsored Story advertisements which used the names and likenesses of Facebook members in ads without their permission. A Seattle seamstress named Angel Fraley led a class action lawsuit against Facebook over the Sponsored Story ads (although Fraley later

dropped out of the suit), for which a settlement of $20 million was proposed in December 2012.

After the cost of legal fees has been deducted, the remainder of that $20 million settlement is supposed to be divvied up among Facebook users who appeared in Sponsored Stories ads, hence the e-mailing of notices inviting such persons to claim their shares of the settlement. How much such users stand to collect is uncertain, as it is based on variables such as the total cost of legal fees and the number of claimants who file to receive their shares.

Claimants may receive up to $10 each, but if the amount of money left in the settlement pool divided by the number of claimants works out to less than $4.99 per person, the money will instead be paid to non-profit organizations that are "involved in educational outreach that teaches adults and children how to use social media technologies safely, or are involved in research of social media, with a focus on critical thinking around advertising and commercialization, and particularly with protecting the interests of children."

Details of the settlement can be viewed at the www.fraleyfacebooksettlement.com web site. Qualifying Facebook users have until 2 May 2013 to claim payment, exclude themselves from the class, or object to the settlement.

Last updated:   28 January 2013


    Edwards, Jim.   "Mandatory Ads In Your News Feed."

    Business Insider.   19 December 2011.

    Hill, Kashmir.   "Seamstress Discovers Downside Of Suing Facebook."

    Forbes.   15 February 2012.

    Hill, Kashmir.   "Yes, That Legal Notice You Got from Facebook Is Real."

    Forbes.   26 January 2013.

    Palazzolo, Joe.   "Suing Facebook Is Kind of a Bummer, Plaintiff Says."

    The Wall Street Journal.   14 February 2012.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.