Facebook and Meta Platforms have enough ongoing litigation to fund an independent nation of lawyers: $4.79 billion in “legal-related accruals” as of last year. These include a current class-action settlement in which you may be eligible for compensation as a claimant.
U.S. Facebook users active between May 2007 and December 2022 may qualify for payouts as part of a $725 million settlement Meta reached in a California court this past March. During the period in question, plaintiffs argue Facebook illegally shared user data with third parties such as political consulting company Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook users have until Aug. 25, 2023 to submit a claim and become eligible.
But that is far from the only money Facebook has paid out.
Some Illinois Instagram users active since August 2015 qualified for payouts in a $68.5 million class-action settlement. Allegations in that suit hold that Meta violated the state’s Bioinformation Privacy Act by collecting state residents’ biometric data. Specifically, plaintiffs argue Facebook illegally collected digital representations of Illinois residents’ faces in promotion of the social media site’s “tagging” feature. The deadline to submit a claim passed recently.
In June 2022, Meta settled out a Justice Department investigation in New York for $115,000 regarding claims of discriminatory housing ads. That money, though, went to the government.
But a California Court certified a class action with similar allegations in that state, so keep an eye there, as that case develops.
Many of the following court cases below aren’t class actions. Those are the ones that allow multiple people to sue as one entity and can end in payments to those people. But these cases are still important to know about in terms of what sticks against Facebook in court and what doesn’t.
Neither state attorneys general, nor the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could get court traction for antitrust suits against Meta alleging its corporate acquisitions have given it an industry monopoly. Similar actions brought against the company, specifically regarding acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, died in Delaware Chancery and D.C. Appeals Courts this year. Efforts in this area by the Department of Justice also seem stagnant this year.
Meta is currently defending cases alleging they’ve failed to effectively fight sex trafficking on its platforms in both the Texas Supreme Court and the Delaware Court of Chancery.
In the past, the Supreme Court has almost entirely vindicated social media companies of liability under the Anti-Terrorism Act and Section 230, including Meta. Lower courts have treated such claims similarly.
But data privacy has proven a consistent winner in court. The FTC fined Facebook a record-setting $5 billion for data privacy violations in July 2019.
In February 2022, Meta settled allegations that they illegally tracked users when logged out of Facebook via “like” buttons on other sites for $90 million.
In October 2021, the Department of Justice settled on a $4.75 billion civil fine and a $9.5 billion to those victimized by Facebook’s discriminatory policy of favoring job applicants on temporary visas at the exclusion of refugees, naturalized U.S. citizens, asylum-seekers, and other legal categories.
Regarding intellectual property, Meta is engaged in streaming technology patent infringement litigation with Network-1. A Texas District Court also leveled a $175 million verdict against Meta for infringing on patents filed by walkie-talkie app developer Voxer in February of this year.
But if you missed the deadline to jump on a class-action in your state, don’t fret. Pacer.gov’s database says Meta Platforms, Inc. is defending 876 federal cases right now.
Another class-action against Meta popped up in Illinois just this month with similar conditions to the one that recently settled. So it’s only a matter of time until a Facebook class-action reaches a theater near you.