Time has just about run out to get in on the $90 million class action settlement Facebook has agreed to following claims it illicitly tracked users across other websites. If you used the social media site back in 2011, you could be eligible for a payout -- but the deadline is just before midnight tonight.
Plaintiffs in Davis v. Facebook alleged that Meta's flagship company knew it violated privacy, communications and wiretap laws -- and its own customer contracts -- when it traced logged-out users to external sites that had Facebook's "Like" button on them.
In June, a California district court gave preliminary approval for a class action settlement -- one including the multimillion-dollar payout and a promise that Facebook would delete any improperly collected data. Following tonight's filing deadline, final approval for the settlement will be determined at an Oct. 27 hearing.
Read on to find out what the Facebook case is about, whether you're eligible for money and when payments might go out.
For more on class action cases, find out if you qualify for money from Apple's $14.8 Million iCloud storage settlement, T-Mobile's $350 million data breach case or Capital One's $190 million cybersecurity payout.
What is Facebook accused of in the data-tracking case?
The plaintiffs allege that Facebook tracked people's activities on external websites, even when they were signed out of their Facebook accounts, by installing cookies on users' computers.
In a 2011 suit filed in US District Court in San Jose, California, they claimed such monitoring violated the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, among other statutes.
That year, Facebook disclosed that it personalized content by placing cookies onto users' computers that remained active even when they were logged out. The company told CNET at the time that it quickly removed uniquely identifying data from post-logout cookies and that it didn't store or use data from cookies for tracking.
But according to the lawsuit, "This admission came only after an Australian technology blogger exposed Facebook's practice of monitoring members who have logged out, although he brought the problems to the defendant's attention a year ago."
Facebook parent Meta Platforms didn't respond to a request for comment though, according to the settlement, it "expressly denies any liability or wrongdoing whatsoever."
When is the deadline to file a claim in the Facebook settlement?
The deadline to file a claim is Sept. 22, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.
The deadline to decline the settlement and reserve the right to file your own legal claims passed on Sept. 12.
Who is eligible to receive money in the Facebook settlement?
US Facebook users who, between April 22, 2010, and Sept. 25, 2011, visited websites that displayed the Facebook "Like" button are eligible to be recipients, or "class members," in the case.
The claims administrator, Angeion, has already emailed eligible class members. If you received a personalized notice in the mail or via email, go to the claims site and enter the Notice ID and Confirmation Code you were provided with.
If you believe you're eligible but weren't contacted, you can also file a claim on your own.
How much money could I receive?
How much individual class members get in the settlement depends on how many people file valid claims. According to the settlement website, "no settlement class member will receive a greater, or lesser, payment than any other settlement class Member."
The court has scheduled a final approval hearing on Oct. 27, 2022, when it will consider whether the $90 million settlement is "fair, reasonable, and adequate."
In 2021, Facebook agreed to a $650 million settlement to a suit that alleged it broke Illinois' biometric laws by collecting and storing users' physical characteristics without their consent.
Nearly 1.6 million Facebook users in the state each received $397 payouts.
When will Facebook settlement checks go out?
After the court makes a final decision about the settlement on Oct. 27, payments are typically required to be distributed within 90 days. But there may be appeals that delay the process.
"It is always uncertain whether appeals will be filed and, if so, how long it will take to resolve them," according to the settlement site. "Settlement payments will be distributed as soon as possible."