Just the other day, I received an email stating that I could receive money from Facebook thanks to a class action lawsuit filed against the social website. With the subject reading "Re: LEGAL NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION," I assumed it was the typical legal notice scam that somehow escaped the spam filter, so in the trash it went. There's always some kind of scam filling up the spam folder ranging from Runescape lawsuits to World of Warcraft lawsuits to confirmations to receive money. This seemed no different.
However, Forbes reports that it's the real deal, and not a ploy to gain access to bank accounts or some other malicious scheme. "Fraley vs. Facebook" is an actual lawsuit that stems back to 2011 when the social network decided to put users in "Sponsored Story" ads. These ads were based on what users "liked" but didn't always reflect the context in which someone "liked" something.
Three months after Facebook launched the "Sponsored Story" ads, a group of plaintiffs led by seamstress Angel Fraley sued Facebook in California, claiming that it was against the law to use their names and likenesses in ads without permission, and without payment. Fraley ended up bailing out after Facebook lawyers began digging up embarrassing material from her account, but the social website and the rest of the plaintiffs eventually settled in December for $20 million.
That leads to the current email that looks like spam. A good chunk of the settlement money mentioned in the legal notice will cover the class action lawyers, and the rest will be divided up to the Facebook users who appeared in the "Sponsored Story" ads. But don't get too excited – you'll only receive up to $10, if that. If too many people claim the settlement, then it will instead go to several non-profit organizations that deal with privacy issues. If it turns out that everyone will receive less than $5, then the money will go to the non-profits as well.
According to Forbes, court filings suggest that around 125 million Facebook users received the notice. The amount left over after the lawyers get their share will be around $12 million. If only three million people claim their price of the settlement, they will each receive payment below the $5 mark, meaning the money will likely go to the non-profits anyway. Yawn.
For more information about the settlement, head here. A copy of the email is shown below in JPG form.