If you're an Illinois Facebook user, you may have recently received a check in the mail from the company as part of a seven-year, $650 million Class Action Lawsuit.
According to the Class Action settlement administrator, checks between $200-$400 to more than 1.4 million people started getting mailed out May 9.
In the lawsuit, Class Members allege the company broke the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act by collecting and storing biometric data -- physical characteristics -- of users without their consent, through things like facial recognition technology.
Facebook users might more commonly know this as "Tag Suggestions" notifications.
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Here's what else to know about the Class Action Lawsuit, and how to find out if you're a Member.
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.
I'm An Illinois Facebook User. Am I a Class Action Member?
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 are not part of the Class.
Not everybody in Illinois who uses Facebook is included.
How to Know if You'll 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.
How Much Are the Checks For?
If you are a Class Member that filed filed a claim by the deadline, you should receive approximately $200 to $400 per person from the $650 million Settlement Fund, the settlement website states.
More specifically, the 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."
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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."
I Don't Remember If I Filed a Claim, or got a Notification. How Can I Find Out If I am Included?
Here's who to call to confirm, or get help:
- 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