If You Live In Illinois and Have Used Facebook, Free Money Is Waiting
Awhile ago, a group of Facebook users filed a class-action suit against the company. An Illinois judge granted the group class-action status after enough plaintiffs joined the suit. Fortunately, almost everyone who uses Facebook and lives in Illinois has a payday coming up very soon, but they have to act fast.
For those who don't live in Illinois, feel free to review your state's privacy laws. You could very well be the leader of the next class-action suit. Additionally, other states have class-action suits pending, so don't lose hope!
What Is the Basis for the Suit?
A group of Facebook users based in Illinois were outraged when they found out that Facebook was harvesting their images. The group of users alleges that, without their implicit or explicit consent, Facebook utilized images of them for use in facial recognition software.
While the users did consent to upload the photos and for Facebook to store them, they did not consent to having their faces automatically detected and permanently stored in a database. Unfortunately, it looks like this has been common practice for quite some time. On the upside, the huge window of time opens up the class-action suit to almost every Facebook user. During this pandemic, many people could use the money from the suit.
Who Exactly Qualifies?
First and foremost, one must have been an Illinois resident and a Facebook user between the dates of June 7, 2011 and November 21, 2020. Even if you used to live in Illinois but have moved, you could still be eligible to collect your share of the money.
Additionally, there is no age requirement. Unlike most class-action lawsuits, which require individuals to be the state's age of majority to participate, this lawsuit allows users who were minors when their pictures were uploaded who are now over the age of majority to participate. Note that, like most states, the age of majority in Illinois is 18.
When you were an Illinois resident and Facebook user, at least one image containing your face or part of your face must have been uploaded to the social media service. Fortunately, there's no stipulation on who uploaded the image. If you uploaded a selfie on your timeline, that qualifies. Likewise, if you were included in a group photo on another Facebook wall where your face was visible, you qualify.
What's the Payout
An Illinois judge ordered Facebook to pay out $650M to Facebook users based in Illinois who qualify per the terms above. Keep in mind that this $650M includes "reasonable attorneys' fees", which typically are about a quarter to a third of the settlement amount.
Unfortunately, there are almost always additional fees added that make settlements that might seem quite large at first sight much smaller in actuality. At this time, approximately 1.4M Facebook users from Illinois have already claimed their group member status in the suit. The window to claim your status as a group member is rapidly closing. With each member, the individual settlement amount decreases, so there's no point putting off joining the group if you qualify.
How Do I Join?
Assuming you qualify and would be able to certify under penalty of perjury that you indeed do qualify, signing up to be a member of the "class" that has been awarded money is quite simple.
The legal group who has led the plaintiffs in the class action has set up a web form. You'll need to have some personal information ready to submit to the legal team. After a short review period, you should be approved. Typically, court settlements must be in the form of a check received in the mail, which is why you'll be required to provide your address.
What If I Don't Qualify?
If you are concerned that your facial images might have been stored in a database by Facebook but don't live in Illinois, you still have options. First, check to see if there's already an approved class-action suit in your state you can join similar to this one.
If not, schedule a typically free or cheap consultation with a lawyer to see if you are able to begin your own suit, as this technically affected people in every state even though this lawsuit is based in Illinois. Each state has its own rules on what constitutes a "group", so consulting someone familiar with these suits is your best bet.
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