Some of Facebook's 1.8 billion users have recently received a $15 check from the social media giant in the mail, leaving many recipients scratching their heads. "Is this check real?"
The answer is: Yes.
The money comes from a class action lawsuit settlement over Facebook’s use of members' names and faces in “Sponsored Story” ads without their permission and without paying them.
Fraley vs. Facebook was filed in April 2011. In their lawsuit, the five plaintiffs claimed Facebook improperly used photos and names of users in Sponsored Story ads, which are created by members “liking” companies’ pages or content. The plaintiffs also argued that Facebook violated a California law that forbids companies from using people’s likenesses or names in advertisements without their consent. Finally, the suit asserted that Facebook should have received parental consent to use the names and likeness of any user under the age of 18.
After more than two years of deliberation, a U.S. federal judge in California approved a $20 million settlement in August 2013. Facebook also promised to give users more “control” over how their photos are used in ads.
Facebook users were who filed to join the class action by the May 2, 2013 deadline were eligible to receive a payment.
Third parties kept the case tied up in appeals court for years, but after those were finally resolved this year, the settlement awards were freed up to be distributed to Class Members, according to the class action's website.