According to a new report, more than a million people in Illinois will receive new payments from Facebook stemming from a $650 million settlement the company reached in a lawsuit over inappropriate use of biometric data.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the payments stem from the initial $650 million settlement over an Illinois law prohibiting the improper use of biometric data reached with the company in 2020.
According to the Tribune, a new payment of $30.61 was issued to those who cashed their initial payment checks in the settlement, representing more than $40 million left over in the settlement fund from those who did not cash their initial payments.
In the lawsuit, class members allege the company violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act by collecting and storing biometric data — also known as physical characteristics — of users without their consent, through things like facial recognition technology.
Facebook users may more commonly know these as “Tag Suggestion” notifications.
Checks for $397 were sent to 1.4 million Illinois users of the platform, according to the settlement administrator. Not all of those payments were accepted or cashed, and the checks were canceled in the fall of 2022, according to reports.
Those who accepted the payments are now eligible for the secondary payout to fully deplete the settlement fund.
I am an Illinois Facebook user. Am I part of the class action?
According to the settlement website, Facebook’s records were used to identify certain class members.
These people must have received a notification via e-mail or on Facebook.
You may have received a notice if you are a current or former Illinois Facebook user who uploaded a photo of yourself or was “tagged” in a photograph on Facebook after June 7, 2011.
If photos of you uploaded to Facebook after June 7, 2011 did not result in the creation of a facial template while you lived in Illinois, you were not notified to participate in the lawsuit.
Not everyone in Illinois who uses Facebook was included, and only Class Action members received payouts from the lawsuit.
Is there a way I can check to see if I am part of the lawsuit and if I will be paid?
According to the settlement website, “Facebook users located in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011” are eligible for a payout.
To have filed a valid claim under the settlement, you must have resided in the State of Illinois for a period of at least 183 days (6 months).
The deadline for submitting a claim form was 23 November 2020.
If you didn’t file a claim by that date—even if you’re an Illinois Facebook user and meet the above criteria—you’re not a class action and you won’t receive any payout.
If you do not remember whether you have submitted a claim or not, you can contact here:
- Settlement administrator: 1-844-799-2417
- Edelson PC, attorney appointment in the case: 1-866-354-3015
- Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, lawyer appointed to the case: 1-800-449-4900
- Labaton Sucharow LLP, attorney appointed to the case: 1-888-219-6877
How much do the checks cost?
According to the settlement website, final checks are for $397. The extra payout was just over $30.
What the Facebook lawsuit in Illinois says, and how Facebook responded
According to the settlement administrator, “Facebook users in Illinois sued Facebook, claiming that its ‘Tag Suggestions’ feature and other features involving facial recognition technology violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.
That law, passed in 2008, says companies aren’t allowed to collect, store or release “biometric data,” which includes things like facial or fingerprint scans, without first notifying and obtaining personal consent. The law also requires companies to specify how the information will be kept and when it will be destroyed
This suit alleges that Facebook specifically violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act by using facial recognition technology to create facial templates that could be used to identify users in photos without proper notice and consent.
Facebook denies all allegations of wrongdoing and liability.
Facebook changed its technology in 2019, replacing the tool with a broader facial recognition setting, which was turned off by default. The site announced that it would shut down the recognition software entirely in 2021.
You can find more information about the lawsuit here.