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Attention, People of Illinois: It’s Time to Make Facebook Pay

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With every passing day, Facebook gives us more evidence that it’s incapable of running itself responsibly, and every day it faces zero consequences. The profits rise and the what-are-you-gonna-do shrugs get more emphatic. But today is different. Today, some of you out there have a chance to cause the social network a little pain for its misdeeds by claiming a $400 settlement check.

As Motherboard points out, Facebook users in Illinois have started to receive notifications on the platform informing them that they could be eligible to receive a payout. The money comes from a lawsuit that accused Facebook of violating the state’s laws on the collection and storage of biometric data without users’ consent. After fighting for several years, Facebook agreed to a $650 million settlement. That’s not going to break the bank for a company that posted more than $18 billion in profits last year, but it could net individual users somewhere between $200 and $400 each depending on how many people successfully file a claim.


At this point, you should be ignoring Facebook notifications, so allow us to direct you to the site where you can file a claim. The site was set up by the law firm representing plaintiffs in the case and has all the info you’ll need. But basically, all you need to know is that you must have lived in Illinois for at least 183 days while being a user for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011. I do not and have never lived in Illinois, so this doesn’t apply to me. But Motherboard reporter Lauren Gurley said the process of filing a claim took two minutes.

The class-action lawsuit itself began in 2015 when a group of users sued the company for violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act—a law that’s considered the toughest of its kind in the United States. The case accused Facebook of failing to achieve proper consent when it enabled facial recognition on photos uploaded by users by default. Facebook never admitted fault, and its initial proposal of a $550 million settlement was deemed too puny by the judge overseeing the case. While Facebook eventually agreed to a higher payout, Recode reports that it could’ve faced fines totaling $47 billion if it lost the case in court.


Citizens of Illinois, it’s now time to do your part as a citizen of the world. If I find out that Facebook pays one penny less than $650 million to resolve this case just because you people couldn’t fill out the claim, I will unleash so many “New York Pizza Is Better” blogs on the internet that you’ll wish Facebook’s algorithm would just serve you an anti-vaxxer post so you can feel something.