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Facebook's Sponsored Stories Settlement
By: Jessica Cherok
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Remember the Sponsored Stories on Facebook? They weren’t so much stories as they were ads that, as part of a recent lawsuit stated, “used Facebook members’ names and likenesses to sell products without their consent.”

You may have noticed a lot of your friends suddenly seeming to “Like” a product or company completely out of character for them. Several people began realizing that their names, photos, or supposed “Like” of endorsement were being associated with ads appearing in users’ news feeds. This was happening without the user giving permission or liking the company or product.

Facebook has recently had a lot of criticism regarding the legitimacy of “Likes.” Critics have claimed that users were not acting clicking “Like,” but that they were coming from dummy accounts and other such fakery.

Now, as part of the class-action settlement, Facebook will begin to pay users up to $10.00 for the their information and images if used as part of a Sponsored Story.

While $10.00 is better than no dollars, it’s a pretty meager amount, especially to the vegetarian who supposedly promoted chicken nuggets for McDonald's. Or the guy whose image was used as part of an advertisement for personal lubricant.

Just how many people could be getting an Alexander Hamilton? According to an estimate from last summer, it could be as high as 125 million users within the United States.  

Facebook has already started the process of notifying users who may be potentially eligible for the remuneration. If you haven’t yet received an email from Facebook, and feel you are eligible, go to www.fraleyfacebooksettlement.com/claim. You can either complete the claim for online, or download the form for submission by mail. The form must be completed by May 2, 2013 in order to be part of the class action. There is also a form to complete to request exclusion from the claim.

Facebook has already set aside $20 million to pay out to users, but with an estimated 160+ million users in the U.S., Facebook will max out the $20 million before every eligible user receives payment.

For all users above the $20 million mark, Facebook will donate the money to nonprofits and users will no longer receive compensation. So, if you feel like your name and/or likeness was used by Facebook as part of a Sponsored Story without your consent, you may be eligible to be part of this settlement.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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