Facebook's parent company, Meta, has agreed to a $37.5 million settlement to resolve a lawsuit accusing it of violating users' privacy by tracking their movements without permission.
Plaintiffs in Lundy et al v. Meta Platforms claim the social media platform collected location data on Facebook users even when they turned off their phones' location services setting, violating both California law and Facebook's own privacy policies.
The settlement was filed Aug. 22 in San Francisco federal court. A preliminary approval hearing is scheduled for Sept. 29 but the payout will still need final approval by a judge before users can receive their share.
Meta didn't respond to a request for comment on the case. In court papers, it denied any allegations of wrongdoing and said it had agreed to the settlement "solely to eliminate the uncertainties, burden, expense, and delay of further protracted litigation."
in June, the company previously agreed to a $90 million settlement following accusations it tracked users' online activity on other sites even after they logged off Facebook. Earlier this year, Meta also settled a $650 million class action case claiming Facebook's facial recognition scans violated Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act.
Read on to find out what Facebook's location tracking case is about, who is eligible for a payment and when they might be able to claim their money.
For more on class action lawsuits, see if you're eligible for a payout from T-Mobile's $350 million data breach settlement, AT&T's $14 million hidden-fee case or Roundup weed killer's $45 million settlement.
What is Facebook accused of?
A class action lawsuit filed in 2018 in the US District Court's Northern District of California accuses Meta of recording Facebook users' physical location without permission, using their IP address to infer their position in order to serve them targeted ads.
"Facebook has been covertly obtaining detailed location information from users regardless of whether a user has opted in or opted out on his or her device," the complaint read.
It wasn't until the EU began enforcing the wide-ranging General Data Protection Regulation in 2018 that Facebook "realized that it had to come clean about its data collection practices in its data policy," according to the complaint, which stated Facebook had previously specifically claimed that collection of any location information was opt-in.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told Congress in 2018 that the company used shared location data "to help advertisers reach people in particular areas."
"For example, if people have shared their device locations with Facebook or checked into a specific restaurant, we can show them ads from an advertiser that wants to promote its services in their area or from the restaurant [itself]," he said.
Who's eligible for money in the location tracking settlement?
A preliminary settlement was filed in San Francisco federal court on Aug. 22. If it receives final approval from a judge, the settlement will cover anyone with a Facebook account since Jan 30, 2015.
How much could I get?
It's not clear how much individual class members would receive yet, though 30% of the proposed settlement could go to the plaintiffs' legal fees, according to court documents.
How would eligible Facebook users get paid?
Eligible class members will be able to file a claim via a yet-to-be-launched settlement website, according to the filing, and then receive payment by check or direct deposit.