01/07/2013 01:57 pm ET

Facebook's Sponsored Stories Settlement Means It's Facebook's Turn To Pay You

After Facebook's IPO turned early employees into overnight billionaires, many users demanded to know when they would get paid for all the sharing that had made the social network a success.

Wait no more: Facebook has started notifying some users that they could get up to $10 from the company.

This isn't Facebook's way of saying "Thanks for all the vacation photos from Cancun," but rather a payout in a class action lawsuit concerning Facebook's "Sponsored Stories" ads that reached a preliminary settlement late last year.

The lawsuit alleges that the Facebook ads "used Facebook members’ names and likenesses to sell products without their consent." (Case in point: Facebook used one member's name and face, without his knowledge, to promote a 55-gallon tube of personal lubricant) Under the terms of the settlement, any current or former Facebook users who had their identities shown in a Sponsored Story ad -- name, nickname, profile picture, photo, etc. -- could be entitled to a check from Facebook.

The majority of Facebook's U.S. users could get paid: the social network estimated in August of last year that around 125 million users in the United States are eligible for a payout, or nearly three quarters of Facebook members in the U.S. (SocialBakers, a social media analytics company, estimates that Facebook now has over 168 million Facebook users in the U.S.).

Facebook has set aside $20 million that will be used in part to compensate users. If the number of claims exceeds $20 million, Facebook will donate all the money to a shortlist of nonprofit organizations, with no cash going to its users. The nonprofits will also receive any money that might remain in the fund after users are paid.

The social network has already started emailing some users to inform them that they could be eligible for a payout. Other Facebook members can learn more about the settlement here.



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