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Facebook users in Illinois can now apply for a privacy payout of up to $400

September 22, 2020, 3:27 PM UTC

Residents of Illinois who posted a picture of themselves to Facebook—or were “tagged” in a photo by someone else—can now apply to receive a payout in a class action settlement.

The settlement, which will see Facebook users in the state receive from $200 to $400, is notable for its size—Facebook agreed to pay $650 million—and because it represents a rare occasion of a tech company compensating its users for a privacy violation.

Those wishing to apply for a payment can do so on this website.

While such violations have become all too familiar in recent years, the ensuing lawsuits have typically seen the settlement money shared among lawyers and third-party groups, rather than users.

In the Facebook case, only Illinois residents are eligible to collect because the state has a unique law that requires companies to obtain permission before using customers’ biometric data—including photographs. Similar lawsuits are underway against Google and photo services like Shutterfly.

In order to qualify for the Facebook payout, users must have lived in Illinois for at least 183 days after June 7, 2011. According to the legal notice, spending time traveling outside the state during this period is not a disqualification.

In order to collect, Illinois Facebook users must file a claim by November. A court is slated to sign off in the settlement in early January, which will see claimants receive a check shortly after, provided there is not an appeal.

The settlement also requires Facebook to turn off its facial recognition feature in the state and to delete the “face templates” of those who haven’t used Facebook in the past three years.

While class action settlements are common, fewer than 10% of eligible consumers typically file to receive their money. You can find a list of other open class actions, involving companies like Apple and Kotex, here.