This is our chance to act like we're filming an ad for a scummy ambulance-chasing law firm:
Did you know that you're ENTITLED to money because you've been harmed by Facebook's abusive practices?
(Cue this sound.)
Last month, Facebook offered to settle a class action lawsuit, rather than fight it in court, offering $20 million. The courted granted preliminary approval for the settlement, and Facebook has started the process of paying it out. Affected users — that is, people who "may have been featured in a 'Sponsored Story' on Facebook prior to December 3, 2012" — have started getting emails [concerning the lawsuit].
The class action alleged that Facebook didn't have the legal right to use members' likenesses in Sponsored Posts. Facebook disagreed, obviously, but rather than risk litigation, decided to settle. (This suit predates the Instagram TOS dustup, but concerns a lot of the same issues.)
I actually received this email last week, and it was unceremoniously placed in my spam folder. I assumed that "Mark Zuckerberg" was the new "Nigerian Prince" in ScammerLand. Oh how wrong I was.
It's now out of the spam folder—because you really can receive $10 from the company if you were featured in one of those Sponsored Posts last year. (You know the ones... "Bob is a fan of Trojan! LIKE Trojan too and be like your safe-sex-practicing friend!")
Last year, Facebook was sued in a class action settlement that argued it was illegal to use people's likenesses in sponsored stories, and rather than fight it out in court, the company settled for $20 million. A good chunk of the network's 150 million U.S. members were made eligible to receive up to $10 for their grievances. It's a small sum, but it's about the principle of the matter, dammit.
But there is a catch. There are 150 million users in the U.S., and Facebook is only paying out a maximum of $20 million. If too many people claim, there won't be not enough money to go around, and the entire $20 million will go to a non-profit. No one gets anything. So in order to get that massive $10 check—which you used to only get from your inflation-ignorant grandma—you're going to have to bank on the inherent laziness of Facebook members. I think the odds are good.