Wow, I sound like a TV law firm ad saying, “you may qualify for a payout from the multi-million dollar Facebook settlement!” But honestly, that’s the fact. I’ve popped my name into a couple of class action settlements recently — generally around data breaches — and it’s always a nice treat to get that $20 or $75 check in the mail.
Here’s the details on how you can get yours.
Who is qualified to get money from the Facebook settlement?
If you used Facebook anytime between May 24, 2007 and Dec. 22, 2022 — even if you’ve deleted your account since then — you are likely entitled to a payment from the class action settlement of the case involving Cambridge Analytica and illegal data sharing.
Note that while you can still check and see whether Cambridge Analytical had access to your data, you do not have to prove damages. That’s the point of a class action settlement — you are part of the “class” of affected plaintiffs, and the settlement, is a way for the defending company to avoid further litigation.
Knowing how many parents use Facebook, I’d assume your’e qualified, and you should go get your money.
How to file your claim
All you have to do is visit this website, be sure you’re in the “submit a claim” tab and fill out some very basic information including your user name. You can find that by clicking on your photo in your profile > Settings & Privacy > Settings. Under your actual name, you’ll see your user name displayed as https://facebook.com/USERNAME.
(Don’t worry about the privacy of the information on the form by the way; it’s going to the US District Court for the Northern District of California to determine eligibility.)
If eligible, you’ll be entitled to a small portion of the $725 million that a judge deemed Meta is liable to pay.
How you’ll get paid from the Facebook settlement
You can choose to get your payment via:
- Direct Deposit to your bank
- Zelle (also through your bank)
- A Prepaid MasterCard
Note there’s also fine print below these options with a small link to allow you to receive a paper check in the mail as well. You can do this if you’re uncomfortable providing other financial information, but it’s all legit. (I chose Zelle.)
Wait, why is this happening again?
In a nutshell, this payout is a settlement for the accusation of data sharing to third-party sources without consent of Facebook users, all over the course of many years.
One of those third parties was Cambridge Analytica, which was revealed to have illegally harvested data from 87 million users for purposes that include violating US election law. Meta agreed to the settlement as away to avoid further litigation. There may be a Russia connection as well.
The Bipartisan Policy Center has a pretty succinct overview if you want to know more.
How much cash will you get from Facebook?
It’s not clear how much each person will get from the class action payout. It depends on how many people file to receive the remaining 75% (subtracting legal fees) of the $725 million total.
That said, columnist Ja’Han Jones makes the point that whatever the amount, “it’s not enough,” considering that the data mining in this case was used to target Black voters to discourage voting.
How can you prevent this in the future?
Data breaches are something that we have to accept as a part of our online world. But there are a few things you can do to be safer:
- You can check to see which third-party apps are connected to your Facebook account, following the steps linked here.
- You can visit haveibeenpwned.com to see whether any of your email addresses are part of other data breaches.
- Above all, be sure to set strong passwords, use 2-factor authentication where available, and change those passwords frequently.
Also, don’t do any Facebook quizzes, no matter how fun they seem.
Now go get your money.
Top image Dawid Sokołowski on Unsplash