In February, I got an email with the subject line: Re: LEGAL NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION. I assumed it was spam. But nope, it's legit. Facebook users filed a lawsuit against FB charging that the "sponsored stories/ads" were a violation of privacy. Judge Seeborg agreed. The settlement is for $20 million! (That's a lot of "likes.")
Okay. Victory won. But -- and it's a big one -- users who file a claim can only receive a maximum of $10 from Facebook. And, $10 (or less, depending on the number of claimants, and after court costs and service payments) really isn't worth the hassle.
Until you read the fine print, which states, and I quote: "If the number of claims made renders it economically infeasible to pay any money to Authorized Claimants, the entire Net Settlement Fund will be distributed to the not-for-profit organizations identified below."
Those non-profits include: Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, Consumers Federation of America, Consumer Privacy Rights Fund, ConnectSafely.org, WiredSafety.org, and others. Wow!
Here are 7 steps for how I'm getting Facebook to pay nearly $20 million to protect the Internet from Facebook. And you can too. It takes less than 5 minutes.
1. Search your inbox for the subject line: Re: LEGAL NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION (or by sender: legalnotice ).
2. Scroll down to the bottom of the message and find your nine digit "Class Member Number. Write it down or copy it for later use.
3. You'll also need your Facebook user name. It's the last portion of your FB url. My FB url is http://www.facebook.com/rose.berger.90 so my user name is: rose.berger.90. Write it down or copy it for later use.
4. Next, fill out your claim form by 11:59 p.m. Pacific on May 2, 2013. Click here: https://secure.gcginc.com/fbk/claim/default.aspx
5. Enter your name, address, contact email (phone number is optional; contact info is for the purposes of the case only). On the next page enter the email address associated with your FB account, your user name (from number 3 above) and your claim number (from number 2 above).
6. Almost done. The next page asks how you want to be paid-electronically by ACH or by paper check. Scroll down to the bottom and make your choice. (I marked paper check -- to make the process as unlikely to happen as possible.)
7. On the last page, scroll down and check the box that says you've read and understand what you are doing (so read it and understand what you are doing). Hitting next will serve as your electronic signature.
Voila! A window will pop up at the end with your claim number, control number, and the date and time you submitted it. I just copied this and sent it to myself in an email.
To get $20 million donated to the Internet's good guys, we need lots and lots of people to fill out their claim forms. Basically, we need everybody who has a claim form to fill it out. Taking 5 minutes to do this will help keep our kids safe on the internet and keep our digital world safe, democratic, and fun!
(Seriously, how often do you get to donate $20,000,000?)