Facebook must pay out $20m (£13m) in damages following a lawsuit about targeted advertising breaching users’ privacy, a US Judge has ruled.
The case, first brought about in 2011, was based around the fact Facebook’s “Sponsored Story” adverts shared users’ “likes” of brands in adverts aimed at their friends.
For example, if a user’s friends have liked the page of a particular product – a food for example – a sponsored story may appear in their newsfeeds telling them that their friends like that product.
An estimated 150 million Facebook users have had their details used in sponsored stories.
A class action lawsuit saw five Facebook users object to the fact their information had been used in advertising without paying them to use their details or giving them the option to opt out.
US District Judge Richard Seeborg determined that Facebook should pay a $20m settlement to 614,000 Facebook users whose personal details were used without their permission, a figure which works out at $15 (£9.65) each. Privacy organisations will also receive some of the settlement.
According to Seeborg, the settlement “while not incorporating all features that some of the objectors might prefer, has significant value”.
He added that the claimant’s individual compensation was quite small because claimants couldn’t prove that they had been “harmed in any meaningful way”.
Facebook hasn’t had a good track record with privacy, and earlier this year the social media giant admitted that it exposed over six million users’ private phone numbers and email addresses to unauthorised viewers in the last 12 months.