Case Study: Facebook Illinois 2020 Settlement

Do You Own the Rights to Your Face?

Over 14 million Illinois residents have claims in the $650 Million Facebook 2020 Settlement. If you uploaded a picture to Facebook and lived in Illinois for 6 months in the past 9 years, you qualify. But hurry — the deadline for filing a claim is November 23, 2020.

In recent years technology companies have come under fire for their use of our personal data, and no company has come in the line of fire more than Facebook. Everything from our birthday, to address, to interests are stored in Facebook’s database, and much of this comes unknowingly. What about a template of your face?

In 2010, Facebook began tracking and cataloging the facial templates of its users to create a feature called “Tag Suggestions.” While the feature is nice to use, and it is great Facebook can help you remember your friends’ names, we are actually giving up quite a valuable bit of information without permission. A facial template can be used as a biometric ID for anyone. A good example of another piece of biometric data is your fingerprint. Unlike your credit card, when a piece of biometric information is sold or stolen, there is no way you can change it – it is unique to you.

Facebook collects this information for one other reason: to make money. Facebook user’s data is very valuable. Although our experience has improved on the platform, what is cost and long-term implications? As large tech companies become more seamlessly ingrained in our everyday life, our definition of privacy becomes vague. A precedent is being set for the ownership of our data on Facebook, and if we want control over our data, we must fight for it.

The Facebook users of Illinois are doing just that. In September, Facebook settled a a class action lawsuit on behalf of Facebook users in the State of over their lack of consent when automatically mapping and storing user facial templates. Over 14 million individuals potentially qualify for a claim from a $650 million settlement fund. If you uploaded a picture to Facebook and lived in Illinois for 6 months in the past 9 years, you qualify. I leave you with one question: why have only 1.3 million people filed? (Featured Image: AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Reach out if you have any questions, we are happy to help.

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