Meta’s Facebook recently reached a $725 million settlement tied to privacy violations. Here’s the story:
Last year, Meta agreed to resolve accusations that Facebook improperly shared consumers’ personal information.
More specifically, that Facebook “allowed British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and other third parties access to consumers’ personal information in violation of privacy protections,” according to Reuters.
Meta and Facebook did not admit to any wrongdoing, but they did settle the lawsuits for $725 million. Now, Facebook users want to know: Am I entitled to some of that?
Who qualifies for settlement payments?
Short answer: Facebook users who lived in the US and had an activated Facebook account between May 24, 2007 and Dec. 22, 2022. To qualify, you must file a claim before Aug. 25, 2023.
Fine print: If you currently work for Meta or an affiliated subsidiary or company, you’re not eligible. Attorneys for the plaintiff, as well as employees of those attorneys, are also excluded from the settlement (along with judges, mediators, and the special master for the case).
Additionally, Facebook users outside of the US are not eligible to file a claim. People who are US citizens but did not have a Facebook any time between May 24, 2007 and Dec. 22, 2022 are also excluded.
Can you file a claim for more than one account, or for someone who’s dead?
No, you cannot file a claim for more than one Facebook account under your name/using your personal information. However, you can file for a deceased person. To do so, you’re going to follow the same steps outlined below (in the “how to file” section) in terms of filing the claim online or via mail.
Essentially, the major change here is that you’re going to fill out the deceased person’s details in the “Your Facebook Account” section of the form. Then, you’ll need to provide the claim settlement administrator with a request to change the name on the form to the beneficiary or estate of the claimant.
To do this, you need to provide documentation showing the reason for the name change, such as a death certificate. You’ll send an email to the administrator through a secure portal along with an explanation of the documents, using the subject line “Name Change – Facebook User Privacy Settlement”.
In the email, include the claim ID from the claim confirmation, along with the full name of the deceased person. If you’re doing it via mail, the form and corresponding documents can be sent here:
Facebook User Privacy Settlement
Attn: Name Change
1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Can you actually expect to receive a payment from this?
Yes, this is a legit settlement, even if it’s unclear at the moment how much people will get. CBS News notes that several things will go into determining when the payments are made and the amount each person will receive.
Ultimately, it comes down to the number of people who file claims, in addition to a few other factors. The lawyers involved in the case will get a large portion of the settlement, thereby reducing the amount claimants may receive, though there have been about 40 objections to that thus far. As it stands, those attorneys estimate that claimants will receive around $35 each from the settlement (which, let’s be honest, isn’t that much money).
However, CBS News indicates that each claimant will receive one point per each month they had an “activated” account on Facebook between May 24, 2007 and December 22, 2022. The settlement administrator will then add up the total number of points for all claimants, then divide the net settlement amount by that number.
PUTTING IT PLAINLY: The less time you spent on Facebook with an activated account during that period, the fewer points you’ll receive—meaning you’ll get less money from the settlement. Someone who was active on Facebook for 48 months between 2007 and 2022 will receive more money than someone who was only active on Facebook for 24 months.
Regardless of point totals and percentages, the payments probably won’t be distributed until later this year at the absolute soonest. There’s a final approval hearing on September 7, after which point it may become clearer as to when the payments will be made.
What if you don’t file a claim?
If you don’t file a claim and you didn’t officially opt out of the settlement prior to July 26, “you give up your right to file a lawsuit, continue a suit or be part of any other litigation against Facebook about the legal issues involved in the case,” according to CBS News. You also forfeit your ability to receive any monetary compensation from the present settlement.
More than 19,000 users had opted out by the middle of July, which means they can still sue Facebook/Meta down the road.
How to file
You can file your claim in one of the following ways:
- Go to the claim website and fill out the form.
- Print your claim and mail it to
Facebook Consumer Privacy User Profile Litigation
c/o Settlement Administrator
1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Regardless of whether you fill the form out digitally or manually, you’ll need to provide the following information:
- Phone number
- If you lived in the US between May 24, 2007 and December 22, 2022
- If you were a Facebook user between May 24, 2007 and December 22, 2022
- If you deleted your account during that period and the date range you were a Facebook user
- Your Facebook username
- The payment service you prefer (i.e. PayPal, prepaid MasterCard, Venmo)
HELPFUL TIP: To find your username through the Facebook website, go to Account, then click on Settings and Privacy, hit Settings, then click Username. To find your username on the mobile app, click on your display name, then click the “…” next to Edit Profile, and your username will appear under Your Profile Link.