In April 2023, online social media users began to wonder if a proposed class action settlement for $725 million in a case that alleged Facebook allowed user data to be shared with third-parties without their consent was legitimate or a scam.
On April 12, 2023, a Twitter post said, "Anyone else get this? Apparently some facebook users are getting notified they are eligible for class action lawsuit payments but not others despite the class members being all users?"
Anyone else get this? Apparently some facebook users are getting notified they are eligible for class action lawsuit payments but not others despite the class members being all users? pic.twitter.com/PB9Dz7CYoc
— Avi Bitterman, MD (@AviBittMD) April 13, 2023
Posts about the claim were also found on Reddit, Facebook and TikTok, where the claim has particularly spread. At least two videos about the claim had over 1 million views at the time of publication. Some social media users said the website for the settlement looked disreputable and wondered why it wanted credit card information. Some users also wondered if it only covered a particular state in the U.S., like California or Illinois.
The proposed class action settlement is legitimate, though some users have apparently confused this case with other class action settlements involving Facebook. (In Illinois, for example, Facebook users in the state received a class action settlement after they claimed Facebook had collected and stored biometric data in violation of Illinois state law. Facebook denied it had violated any law. The deadline to file a claim for that class action lawsuit was in 2020.)
The website connected with the current settlement includes a case number for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. If you go to the court's website and type in that case number (3:18-md-02843-VC), you can find further information about the case.
About 250 to 280 million Facebook users are eligible to receive funds from the proposed class action settlement, according to December 2022 court documents filing for the proposed settlement. You are eligible if you were a Facebook user in the U.S. from May 24, 2007, to December 22, 2022. The final approval hearing for the class action is scheduled for September 7, 2023, at the time of this publication.
According to the settlement website, the amount of the payment will be determined depending on how many eligible people submit valid claims, as well as how long a user was on Facebook during the specified time period. Fees and expenses like administrative costs will also be taken from the settlement amount before it begins being distributed to people, according to the settlement website.
The deadline to submit a claim is August 25, 2023, by which date the settlement website states you must have either postmarked your completed application or submitted it online. The online form asks for contact information, as well as payment selection for any funds received from the settlement, like direct deposit or Venmo.
The case came from the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, when it was revealed the now-bankrupt political ad marketing firm had obtained millions of Facebook users' personal information in order to target voters during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Facebook's parent company, Meta, has denied all claims of liability or wrongdoing but agreed to settle the case in December 2022, according to court documents from March 2023 that certified the preliminary approval of the class action settlement.