Lawyers in Facebook class action get millions, users get dozens | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Lawyers in Facebook class action get millions, users get dozens

FILE - In this July 30, 2019, file photo, the social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store.
Image Credit: (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky)

Meta, the company behind Facebook, announced in February it would settle a class action lawsuit for $51 million but it took until this week to figure out how much would go to lawyers and how much for users.

Users: $42 each. Lawyers: $17 million.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Nitya Ayer approved the settlement and that lawyers can take 33% of the payout in a decision released this week. Deborah Douez, the representative plaintiff, gets $10,000.

The lawsuit was filed in 2012, claiming that Facebook’s Sponsored Stories breached privacy rights of Canadian users by making it appear that they endorsed brands by “liking” their pages. A user’s photo and name would appear on the ads served to their friends with the endorsement without their knowledge.

Normally, Canadian lawyers are capped at 25% contingency on class action lawsuits but can claim up to 33% with approval of a judge. Class action suits are often done on contingencies, meaning the law firms take all the risk and often aren’t paid by their clients.

In this case, Ayer said several factors warranted the addition. The case was complex, took 12 years to be resolved, was nearly lost several times and it moved the law forward on privacy matters.

The 4.3 million people from B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador, who were using Facebook between Jan 1, 2011 and May 30, 2014 are due to get between $36 and $42.

It was never really about the settlement, at least not for users, says Chris Rhone, lead counsel for the plaintiff.

“One of the main goals and purposes of these class actions is to hold these corporations accountable. And it sends a message, I think, as well to other internet companies that may be doing business in Canada, to be aware of the laws and protections that our legislatures have put in place to protect the residents of these provinces and, in particular in this case, their privacy rights,” Rhone and lawyer at Branch MacMaster told in a previous interview.

Anyone who meets the eligibility requirements is due for compensation.

The law firm, MNP, will send out an invitation to eligible class members to verify that they were a Facebook user at that time in one of the four provinces.

Fortunately for eligible class members, there are no extra steps to join the lawsuit at this time. All eligible members are automatically included.

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