Many of you may have seen an email with the subject “Re: LEGAL NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION.” Normally when we see emails like that, the natural assumption is to believe that it is spam and promptly delete, but in this case, it is legit. (Assuming it came from firstname.lastname@example.org)
To summarize the issue, Facebook was hit with a class-action lawsuit by 5 users who didn’t like Facebook’s new advertisement system. Facebook allows a company to pay to have an advertisement displayed in a manner that looks like you are saying it. If Facebook did this to you before December 3, 2012, you were automatically named in this class-action lawsuit.
Facebook settled out of court for $20 Million and all co-defendants who file their claim form get a piece of the pie – in theory. One potential problem is that it divides evenly, with no more than $10.00 going to each person. If too many file, no one will get anything, though the email is unclear about what happens to the money in that scenario. Another option you are left with is to sue Facebook independently on your own, but to do that you must voluntarily remove yourself from the class-action lawsuit.
Money aside, the issue is a broad victory for privacy advocates, though one cannot help but wonder why Facebook didn’t simply implement a system similar to Google Adsense where users can share in the profits on their own pages.