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Federal judge approves $20 million Facebook settlement

A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] on Monday granted final approval [text] to a $20 million settlement agreement with Facebook [website; JURIST news archive] over its "Sponsored Stories." The "Sponsored Stories" program shared with a user's Facebook friends when a user clicked "like" on particular advertisers and generally included a user's name and profile picture. The settlement concerned five plaintiffs who filed a class action against Facebook in 2011, accusing Facebook of appropriating the names, photographs and identities of users through the "Sponsored Stories" program to advertise products to users, all without their explicit permission. The settlement terms require Facebook to pay $20 million to compensate class members and to give users more control over how Facebook shares user content. Children's rights groups argue that the settlement does not go far enough in protecting the rights of children.

Judge Richard Seeborg initially rejected [JURIST report] Facebook's proposed settlement over the "Sponsored Stories" program. Seeborg refused to grant preliminary approval of the settlement, which provided for changes to Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and for $10 million in cy pres payments to be shared among advocacy groups for children, consumers and electronic privacy, but not with Facebook users themselves. Seeborg also expressed concern over a settlement provision that allowed payments of up to $10 million in attorney's fees, but again excluded the users who made up the class of injured parties.

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