1.4 million people in Illinois stand to receive a check in the mail from Facebook as part of a seven-year, $650 million Class Action Lawsuit against the company.
In the suit, Class Members allege the company broke the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act by collecting and storing biometric data -- also known as physical characteristics -- of users without their consent, through things like facial recognition technology.
Facebook users might more commonly know this as "Tag Suggestions" notifications.
Checks in the amount of $397 to more started getting mailed out May 9, according to the settlement administrator, and it will take about two weeks to finish mailing the checks and processing the electronic payments.
If you haven't received a check yet, but believe you are due one, here's what to know.
I'm an Illinois Facebook User. Am I Part of the Class Action Lawsuit?
According to the settlement website, Facebook's records were used to identify certain Class Members.
Those people should have received notice through email or on Facebook.
You might have gotten a notice if you are a current or former Facebook user in Illinois who uploaded a photograph of yourself or were "tagged" in a photograph on Facebook after June 7, 2011.
If photographs of you that were uploaded to Facebook after June 7, 2011 did not result in the creation of a face template while you lived in Illinois, you were not notified to take part in the lawsuit.
Not everybody in Illinois who uses Facebook is included, and only Class Action Members will receive a payout from the lawsuit.
Is There a Way I Can Check to See if I Am Part of the Lawsuit, and if I Will Get a Payout?
According to the settlement website, “Facebook users located in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011” are eligible for a payout.
To have filed a valid claim under the Settlement, you must have lived in the State of Illinois for a period of at least 183 days (6 months).
The deadline to file a claim form was November 23, 2020.
If you did not file a claim by that date — even if you are an Illinois Facebook user, and meet the above above criteria—you are not a Class Action Member, and you will not receive a payout.
If you don't remember, whether or not you filed out a claim form, here's who to contact:
- Settlement Administrator: 1-844-799-2417
- Edelson PC, lawyer appointment to the case: 1-866-354-3015
- Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, lawyer appointed to the case: 1-800-449-4900
- Labaton Sucharow LLP, lawyer appointed to the case: 1-888-219-6877
How Much Are the Checks For?
According to the settlement website, final checks are in the amount of $397.
Previously, the settlement administrator stated that checks would be between $200-$400. A document titled "Order re: Final Approval, Attorneys' Fees and Costs, And Incentive Awards" dated Feb. 26, 2021, states that "it is one the largest settlements ever for a privacy violation, and it will put at least $345 into the hands of every class member interested in being compensated."
Get updates on what's happening in the Chicago area to your inbox. Sign up for our News Headlines newsletter.
When Will I Receive My Check?
Payments started getting mailed out to members on May 9, 2022.
"It will take about two weeks to finish mailing the checks and processing the electronic payments," the settlement website states.
"If you are expecting a payment but haven't yet received it, we ask that you wait until mid-June before making an inquiry."
What the Illinois Facebook Lawsuit Says, and How Facebook Responded
According to the Settlement Administrator, "Facebook users in Illinois sued Facebook claiming that its “Tag Suggestions” feature and other features involving facial recognition technology, violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.
That law, passed in 2008, says companies are not allowed to collect, store, or give out "biometric data," which includes things like face or fingerprint scans, without first giving notice and obtaining personal consent. The act also requires companies to specify how the information would be retained, and when it would be destroyed
This case alleges that Facebook specifically broke the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act by using facial recognition technology to create face templates that can be used to identify users in photos without the proper notice and consent.
Facebook denies all allegations of wrongdoing and liability.
Facebook changed its technology in 2019, replacing the tool with a broader facial recognition setting, which was turned off by default. The website announced it would shut down its recognition software entirely in 2021.
More information can be found about the lawsuit here.