U.S. judge gives initial OK to revised Facebook privacy settlement

Jessica Dye
Reuters Middle East

Dec 3 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday gave his

preliminary approval to a second attempt by Facebook Inc

to settle a class action lawsuit which charges t h e social

networking company with violating privacy rights.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in California rejected a

settlement in August over Facebook's 'Sponsored Stories'

advertising feature, questioning why it did not award money to

Facebook members for using their personal information.

But in a ruling handed down Monday, Seeborg said a revised

settlement "falls within the range of possible approval as fair,

reasonable and adequate."

In a revised proposal, Facebook and plaintiff lawyers said

users now could claim a cash payment of up to $10 each to be

paid from a $20 million total settlement fund. Any money

remaining would then go to charity.

The company also said it would engineer a new tool to enable

users to view content that might have been displayed in

Sponsored Stories and opt out if they desire, a court document


If it receives final approval, the proposed settlement would

resolve a 2011 lawsuit originally filed by five Facebook Inc


The lawsuit alleged the Sponsored Stories feature violated

California law by publicizing users' "likes" of certain

advertisers without paying them or giving them a way to opt out.

The case involved over 100 million potential class members.

A spokesman for Facebook said the company was "pleased that

the court has granted preliminary approval of the proposed

settlement." Lawyers for the plaintiffs weren't immediately

available for comment Monday evening.

Outside groups and class members will have a chance to

object to the latest settlement before Seeborg decides whether

to grant final approval. A hearing on the fairness of the deal

has been set for June 28, 2013.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

is Angel Fraley et al., individually and on behalf of all others

similarly situated vs. Facebook Inc, 11-cv-1726.

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