Facebook has had a lawsuit pending since 2013 related to alegations made in 2012 that the company was scanning private messages, and counting the links shared within them as ‘likes’ for their algorithms. This accusation was made by a security researcher, Ashkan Soltani, who found that Facebook was doing this. The social network changed their tracking to stop this practice shortly after, but the lawsuit was already in progress.
The class action lawsuit has been dragging on for years, but according to reports, has finally gotten a tentative settlement approved by the courts.
Federal US District Court Judge, Phyllis Hamilton, will be holding a hearing in August to grant final approval of the settlement. At this point at least, it is expected that everything will be approved and this case can finally be put to rest.
If everything does go through properly, Facebook will have to pay as much as $3.3 million to the attorneys who filed the case on behalf of Facebook users. The actual users of Facebook at the time of the violations, however, will not be entitled to any compensation. If users want to seek compensation, they will be able to file an additional suit, though it seems unlikely that this will take place.
While $3.3 million isn’t much for the social media giant, they will likely be happy to finally have this case put behind them. For marketers, this is a good reminder that every decision that is made, no matter how small, can have long lasting (and costly) consequences. Whenever gathering data on your users, make sure to follow all privacy guidelines.