Facebook Accused of Massive Privacy Violation, Settles Case for $550M

Did Facebook violate the privacy rights of millions of its users in Illinois through its facial tagging system? No jury or court decision was reached to conclusively say if they did or not, but the social media company did agree to pay a settlement to end the lawsuit deriving from those accusations.

In a recent announcement, Facebook said it would pay a plaintiff class based in Illinois $550 million to settle the consumer class action. Eligibility requirements to join the class and claim part of the settlement should be announced somewhat soon. The class is estimated to be at least 5 million people.

What Did Facebook Allegedly Do Wrong?

Illinois law requires any company that uses biometric data – user-specific information based on their fingerprints, eyes, or facial features – to notify those consumers before using it for any purpose. The company must share how they have collected the biometric data, what they want to use it for, and how long that data will stay securely in their possession. After receiving this information, the consumer can consent to its fair use.

However, Facebook is accused of not following Illinois’s biometric laws through the application of its facial recognition and tagging software. Facebook users can upload a picture of anyone, and the social media platform will attempt to recognize who is in the picture and tag them. It does so by using facial recognition algorithms and programs, i.e. biometric data.

In its defense, Facebook argued that the collection and use of the biometric data did not cause any of the plaintiffs any harm that could be reasonably translated to financial damages. The settlement was reached under the explanation that Facebook was not accepting liability or admitting any form of guilt but was merely trying to end the matter to resolve shareholder concerns.

Significance of the Facebook Biometric Data Settlement

With millions of people potentially staking a claim to the $550 million settlement offered by Facebook, each plaintiff in the class action might only get a few hundred dollars. While the award for each plaintiff may seem paltry, the significance of the case is anything but.

The case result has helped lay the groundwork for biometric privacy claims that may arise in the future against corporations running similar systems. In fact, Facebook is not the only company that has been sued for misuse of facial recognition data by any means. Yet the case against Facebook will be recorded clearly in legal history since the social media company is so enormous and recognizable. The win for the plaintiff class has underlined the fact that no company is too big or too influential to step over the rights of its users and everyday consumers.

You can get more information about the Facebook biometric data class action by clicking here and viewing a full article from the Chicago Tribune. (Login or subscription may be required.) If you have questions about joining a class action after you have been defrauded or otherwise suffered damages due to the dishonest actions of a corporation, reach out to Golomb & Honik, P.C. in Philadelphia today. Our consumer class action attorneys have the experience and know-how required to take on major corporations in the pursuit of justice and compensation for our clients and thousands or millions just like them.

Get more information by calling (215) 278-4449 today.

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