Five years after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, millions of Facebook users may be able to get money from the social media company for their troubles.
If you are a current or former Facebook user, here’s how to get started.
Who qualifies to get a payment?
Anyone who used Facebook between May 24, 2007, and Dec. 22, 2022, can submit a claim, even if you no longer have a Facebook account. Political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of improperly using a quiz app on the social media site to access the personal data of 87 million Facebook users without their consent.
How do I get my money from the Facebook settlement?
You have to submit a claim to get any money. If you don’t submit one, you won’t get a payment. You also will not be able to sue Facebook on your own for the same privacy violation, if that was something you were considering.
To start the process, you’ll fill out a simple form. You can mail in a printed version or do it online at facebookuserprivacysettlement.com. If you are a current Facebook user, you should also get an alert in the app or on the site that links to the settlement page and instructions.
You’ll need some key information, including an email address, phone number or username or user ID to confirm your account. The form also asks you to share payment information so you can receive the payout. If you no longer have your account, you can note the years it was active to the best of your recollection. You may be able to find your old sign-up and cancellation emails to find the right dates.
If you’ve had multiple Facebook accounts over the years, you can file a claim for only one of them. Use whichever you had open the longest.
When do I need to file a claim?
You have until Aug. 25, 2023. If you want to opt out of the settlement, you have until July 25.
How much money can I get from the Facebook lawsuit?
There’s no set payout amount per user, but don’t expect a windfall. The final checks will depend on a number of factors, including how many people fill out a claim form.
The biggest payout from the settlement will go to legal fees for the lawyers behind it. They can claim up to 25 percent of the $725 million, or a little over $180 million. There are eight named plaintiffs in the case, and they could receive up to $15,000 each. The rest of the pool will be divided up between affected Facebook users.
If it’s not a lot of money, should I even file a claim?
While it’s unlikely to result in a big payday for Facebook users, it’s still smart to file a claim. In addition to getting enough for at least a couple lattes, these settlements can send a message to the companies.
“Even when it’s a relatively low dollar amount, one of the other main purposes of consumer class actions isn’t compensation, its deterrence,” says Adam Zimmerman, a professor of law at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles who specializes in class actions. “Yes, 80 million people might not even really care to recover their small amounts but we don’t want to create a procedural system where a company can do that over and over to consumers.”
When will I actually get paid?
Don’t make any big plans for your money yet. The final hearing to approve the settlement doesn’t happen until September. Even if approved, there could be bureaucratic and legal delays such as appeals. If it is approved, it could take at least 90 more days for the payment process to start, says Zimmerman.
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