When class action lawsuits reach a settlement, a notice goes out to everyone who could claim a portion of the money. But when those notices suddenly appear in your inbox seeming to offer free money, it’s natural to be suspicious.
A VERIFY viewer recently got such an email, saying he could get cash from a recent settlement with Facebook, and wanted to know if it’s real.
The notice sent the viewer to a website called fbinternettrackingsettlement.com and stated “If you are a person who, between April 22, 2010 and September 26, 2011, inclusive, were a Facebook user in the United States who visited non-Facebook websites that displayed the Facebook Like button, you may be eligible for a payment from a class action settlement.”
Are fbinternettrackingsettlement.com and the associated email notice legitimate?
United States District Court, Northern District of California
David Straite, Partner at Dicello Levitt
Yes, the site and notice are the result of a real class action lawsuit being settled with Facebook.
WHAT WE FOUND
The website and notice sent via email included a specific case number – 5:12-MD02314-EJD (N.D. California).
VERIFY dug up the court records for that case and found it was indeed a class action suit that has been ongoing for roughly a decade, accusing Facebook of improperly tracking people’s data even after they left the site.
In early 2022, the lawyers who brought the suit and Meta Platforms, Inc. – Facebook’s parent company – finally reached a settlement agreement worth a total of $90 million. In March, a judge gave that agreement preliminary approval.
One of the next steps was to send out the notice and set up the settlement website. Although such websites can appear suspicious, they are a common tool for helping eligible people file their claims.
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People can also decline to file a claim, and by doing so retain their ability to individually sue Facebook later, or object to the settlement if they don’t like the terms. Those objections will be considered in a hearing on Oct. 27, 2022 before the judge gives the agreement final approval.
The application for final approval specifically lists the site fbinternettrackingsettlement.com as one of the mechanisms used to give notice to potential class members.
David Straite, one of the lead lawyers in the suit, told VERIFY, “Yes the website is legitimate and we encourage all class members to consider filing a claim.”
Potential class members do not have to have received an email notice to file a claim. The amount of money eventually given out to each person will depend on how many people have their claims approved.
Facebook did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, and Meta did not respond to VERIFY’s request for comment.