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Facebook notifies members about Beacon settlement

The terms of the settlement were announced in September, but per a court order Facebook has had to send out an e-mail to explain it to users who were members at the time its Beacon advertising program was active.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

An e-mail was sent on Thursday to Facebook users who were members at the time that its controversial, now-defunct Beacon advertising program was operated: it's the official notice about the proposed settlement for the class-action lawsuit against Beacon. The terms of the settlement have been public since September, but the court-ordered summary notice is the last step in the process before final approval on February 26.

"This is not a settlement in which class members file claims to receive compensation," the notice explained (possibly crushing the hopes of any Facebook members who might have got excited that this would be an easy way to make some pizza money). "Under the proposed settlement, Facebook will terminate the Beacon program. In addition, Facebook will provide $9.5 million to establish an independent nonprofit foundation that will identify and fund projects and initiatives that promote the cause of online privacy, safety, and security."

A Web site has been set up to explain the terms of the settlement for the case Lane et al. vs. Facebook Inc. et al., which was originally filed last summer.

Beacon, an advertising program that shared members' activity on participating third-party sites on their Facebook profiles without much warning or notification, was a much-hyped part of the Facebook Ads initiative that debuted in the fall of 2007. But it was, unfortunately for Facebook, a complete public relations disaster.

Pressure from privacy and activist groups resulted in notable changes to the product and member controls thereof, but image repair proved to not be enough and Facebook let Beacon fade to black.