Instagram, Twitter and Others Could Pay Users $5.3 Million in App Privacy Settlement

April 5, 2017, 3:53 AM UTC

Did you download popular apps like Yelp (YELP) or Twitter (TWTR) to an Apple (AAPL) device between 2009 and 2012? If so, you could be in line for a small payout thanks to a proposed privacy settlement unveiled in court documents this week.

Under the terms of the settlement, which was filed in San Francisco federal court Monday, eight companies—Instagram , Foursquare, Kik, Gowalla, Foodspotting, Yelp, Twitter and Path—will contribute $5.3 million to a payment pot for consumers. The proceeds, which will be distributed via credits or by check, are likely to be paid late this year.

The proposed payments are part of a privacy lawsuit that began in 2012 when consumers sued a group of social media and messaging companies, including Apple itself, over their use of an iOS feature called “Find Friends.”

As the name suggests, “Find Friends” lets consumers quickly discover if any of their contacts are using the app too. But according to the users in the case, the app makers violated their privacy by failing to inform them that “Find Friends” would transfer user’s contact lists to company servers.

The companies have fought the lawsuit for years, complaining in part that storing users’ contact lists on the server was necessary for the “Find Friends” tool to function. But U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar pushed back, saying the firms should have been more explicit about what they were doing.

The judge must approve the settlement before it takes effect. If he does, it would leave Apple and LinkedIn as the only firms among 18 original defendants who are still part of the case.

As for consumers, no one is going to get rich from the settlement since there are likely millions of people who downloaded the apps in the specified time periods described in the court documents. But as many eligible people are unlikely to apply for the money at all, it’s likely those who do will get a few bucks.

The settlement also calls for the app makers to inform eligible users by email or, in Twitter’s case, by a promoted tweet with the suggested handle of “@settlementnews.”

You can find out if you’re one of those who might be eligible to collect by looking at this proposed Q&A for the claim process here. You can read the full terms of the proposed settlement, which was spotted by Law360, here.

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