It took a couple years, but those who filed a lawsuit against Facebook over information used in targeted advertising are seeing a small payday.
Law and Order: The Social Network
According to a report from Dan Levine, Facebook became the focus of a lawsuit in 2011 after five individuals sued over how the social network used member information to help promote sponsored stories. At that time, those who filed the suit found when they "liked" a company, brand or businesses page, this like would often show up as part of that business’ ad without first notifying the user, allowing them to opt out of the service or paying them for their contribution. The case eventually included about 614,000 complainants or plaintiffs and became known as “Angel Fraley et al., individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated vs. Facebook Inc, 11-cv-1726."
The terms of the settlement are as follows: Facebook, out of a US$ 20 million has to pay US$ 9 million to class members of the suit, which according to Joe Miller works out to about US$ 15 a person. Zuckerberg and team are also required to give users more say in how content is shared. The rest of the US$ 20 million will be used for lawyer and other fees and will be used to contribute to a dozen not-for-profit organizations.
Facebook members should note that while they made have been affected by this issue only those that responded to the notice sent out earlier in the year will receive compensation. Although, it was noted that 7,000 Facebook users opted out of the settlement, which means they could file their own case against Facebook, if they so choose.
Another Overarching Concern
While a main concern surrounding this case was communication issues and protecting privacy of the social network’s users, there were other, more specific concerns. Levine pointed out one related to Facebook’s younger audience and their online safety.
Child rights advocates had argued that no minors should have their content shared with advertisers,” wrote Levine, as the ads didn't remove a user’s "like" endorsement because of their age.
Facebook hasn’t yet issued a statement or commented on the settlement.
A Few Advertising Changes
As Facebook is developing into less of a "stay in touch" network and more of a business to consumer network there have been a few changes to its advertising platform since the suit was filed. Some of the more recent updates include the move from Sponsored Stories to Social Context Ads, FBX Targeting based on newsfeed content, a change in ad size and the release of a new conversion measurement tool.