Legal

More than 4 million people missed out on a huge check from Facebook

Facebook icon on a phone over a pile of money, representing a class action settlement payout.

$650M

The final settlement amount in an Illinois privacy class action suit.

Bloomberg

SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

In the largest consumer privacy court settlement, 1.57 million people will receive more than $300 each from Facebook. Bloomberg reports that an official tally was reached in court following Monday’s deadline for Illinois residents to see if they were eligible to join the claim against Facebook’s use of biometric photo tagging.

After about a third of the $650 million settlement goes to court and lawyer fees, the rest will be divided among claimants. The deal is set to be finalized in 2021.

Is it enough? — Illinois’ early concerns about biometrics privacy are paying off for more than a million residents. When Facebook originally reached a settlement for the case claiming its tag suggestions violated state law, the proposed deal was for $550 million. U.S. District Judge James Donato felt uncomfortable with the amount being under $1 billion, so Facebook threw another $100 million onto the deal.

Illinois state law could have brought between $1,000 and $5,000 to each person affected had the case gone to trial. With an estimated 6 million eligible to join the suit, Facebook might have needed to dole out $6 to $30 billion — not including legal fees. The bargain of a settlement also allows the company to avoid any official blame.

To sweeten the deal, Facebook also offered an outreach blitz to those affected. Prospective claimants were sent emails and Facebook notifications about the suit. Local news outlets also pointed Illinois residents to a website to determine their eligibility for two months prior to the November 23 deadline.

Illinois residents had until Nov. 23 to claim the deadline.Facebookbiclassaction.com

Still, more than 4 million people passed on the payout, which would have reportedly bottomed out around $200. For various reasons, only about 10 percent of people affected by this kind of suit accept the payout, so a 25 percent buy-in is a definitive win. These reasons can range from mere forgetfulness to not wanting to concede the right to any individual litigation on the matter in the future.

Depending on how many Illinois residents are in the latter camp, there are still billions on the table.