Thursday, January 31, 2013

Emailed about a Facebook "Legal Notice"? It's Legit!

If you are a regular Facebook user, there's a good chance that a message was sent out by to the e-mail address you used to sign up on Facebook. At first glance, it just seems like cheap spam, getting past the filter, but doing a little research yields some interesting results.

Facebook Class Action Settlement Email
What next? I really am the heir to a Nigerian fortune?
More than 99.99% percent of the time, you should not open an e-mail titled, "Re: LEGAL NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION." that you do not recognize -- but many news sources on the web (spanning all the way up from dozens of rink-a-dink little blogs like mine to The Telegraph) are actually saying that you may want to take a look.

If you want, you could claim your stake of anywhere from pennies to $10 (the amount is still to be determined), but chances are so many people will try to take a slice of the $20 million pie that it gets divvied up between a few privacy organizations as per the section on the notice that ruled, "If the number of claims made renders it economically infeasible to pay money to persons who make a timely and valid claim, payment will be made to the not-for-profit organizations identified on the Settlement website at"

Why, though, are we all being compensated by Facebook?

The answer is that Facebook has been using you (and many of your friends) to support their ads using your personal "Like" information. Your identity, including your picture and your name, were displayed promoting an advertisement, entirely without your knowledge. This class-action settlement aims to fine Facebook for its gray-area behavior and (hopefully) give a little back to the people. 

Even Snopes is calling this one confirmed, so I am leaning toward the "Plausible" side. Just remember to do a little digging yourself before you go giving out personal information to anyone on the internet.

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