Skip to main content

Facebook may owe you $15, thanks to $20 million ‘Sponsored Stories’ lawsuit settlement

facebook mark zuckerberg
Image used with permission by copyright holder

After more than two years of deliberation, a U.S. federal judge in California has granted final approval for Facebook’s $20 million settlement of a lawsuit over its “Sponsored Story” advertisements, reports Reuters. Qualified users who joined the class action suit will receive $15 from the social network for having their photos and names featured in Sponsored Stories. Facebook also promised to give users more “control” over how their photos are used in ads.

In a motion filed Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg agreed to a revised settlement that awards $9 million to be divided amongst the approximately 614,000 Facebook users who appeared in Sponsored Stories without their consent, and filed the necessary paperwork to join the class action lawsuit by the May 2, 2013 deadline. Qualified users who failed to meet the deadline will not receive any part of the settlement. The other $11 million will go to attorney and court fees, expenses, and a dozen non-profit groups that promote and research privacy issues, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

The suit, filed by five plaintiffs in April 2011, asserted that Facebook improperly used photos and names of people in Sponsored Story ads, which are created by users “liking” companies’ pages or content. The plaintiffs also argued that Facebook violated a California law that forbids companies to use people’s likenesses or names in advertisements without their consent. Finally, the suit asserted that Facebook should have received parental consent to use the names and likeness of any user under the age of 18.

Facebook contends that users automatically consent to appearing in Sponsored Stories because they understand that “liked” content appears in their friends’ newsfeeds; Sponsored Stories are, according to Facebook, simply repackaged and redisplayed versions of content users have already agreed to share with friends.

Judge Seeborg found that, while plaintiffs provided sufficient evidence of injury in a legal sense, the plaintiffs failed to provide adequate support for their complaint of illegality on Facebook’s part. Seeborg determined that had a trial found Facebook in violation of California law, the company would have had to pay as much as $750 per user, or more than $112 million in total. Such a ruling would have, in Seeborg’s words, “threatened Facebook’s existence.”

The ruling stated that the amount paid to class members of the suit is satisfactory, given that the plaintiffs did not show sufficient evidence to prove “that they were actually harmed in any meaningful way” by appearing in Sponsored Stories.

In addition to the $20 million payout, Facebook has also agreed “to provide greater disclosure and transparency as to when and how member’s names and profile pictures are re-published, and to give them additional control over those events,” according to the motion. Facebook must also allow minors to opt-out of Sponsored Stories entirely.

See the full order of final settlement below:

Fraley v. Facebook: Order Granting Final Approval (Document 359)

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Andrew Couts
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Features Editor for Digital Trends, Andrew Couts covers a wide swath of consumer technology topics, with particular focus on…
How to make a GIF from a YouTube video
woman sitting and using laptop

Sometimes, whether you're chatting with friends or posting on social media, words just aren't enough -- you need a GIF to fully convey your feelings. If there's a moment from a YouTube video that you want to snip into a GIF, the good news is that you don't need complex software to so it. There are now a bunch of ways to make a GIF from a YouTube video right in your browser.

If you want to use desktop software like Photoshop to make a GIF, then you'll need to download the YouTube video first before you can start making a GIF. However, if you don't want to go through that bother then there are several ways you can make a GIF right in your browser, without the need to download anything. That's ideal if you're working with a low-specced laptop or on a phone, as all the processing to make the GIF is done in the cloud rather than on your machine. With these options you can make quick and fun GIFs from YouTube videos in just a few minutes.
Use GIFs.com for great customization
Step 1: Find the YouTube video that you want to turn into a GIF (perhaps a NASA archive?) and copy its URL.

Read more
I paid Meta to ‘verify’ me — here’s what actually happened
An Instagram profile on an iPhone.

In the fall of 2023 I decided to do a little experiment in the height of the “blue check” hysteria. Twitter had shifted from verifying accounts based (more or less) on merit or importance and instead would let users pay for a blue checkmark. That obviously went (and still goes) badly. Meanwhile, Meta opened its own verification service earlier in the year, called Meta Verified.

Mostly aimed at “creators,” Meta Verified costs $15 a month and helps you “establish your account authenticity and help[s] your community know it’s the real us with a verified badge." It also gives you “proactive account protection” to help fight impersonation by (in part) requiring you to use two-factor authentication. You’ll also get direct account support “from a real person,” and exclusive features like stickers and stars.

Read more
Here’s how to delete your YouTube account on any device
How to delete your YouTube account

Wanting to get out of the YouTube business? If you want to delete your YouTube account, all you need to do is go to your YouTube Studio page, go to the Advanced Settings, and follow the section that will guide you to permanently delete your account. If you need help with these steps, or want to do so on a platform that isn't your computer, you can follow the steps below.

Note that the following steps will delete your YouTube channel, not your associated Google account.

Read more