RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — If you were a Facebook user between April 2010 and Sept. 2011, the tech giant known as Meta may owe you some money.
Facebook’s parent company has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit for spying on their users.
It involves Facebook users who visited non-Facebook sites that had the “like” button on them.
The lawsuit claims Facebook tracked users across other websites, even if you had logged off their platform.
Using the “like” icon is going to cost Meta $90 million because of the way the button was used on third party sites between April 22, 2010, and September 26, 2011.
“Anybody who had a Facebook “like” button was able to get information from that page through cookies,” explained Cybersecurity expert Rob Downs, the CEO of the Raleigh based Managed IT Solutions.
We’ve all seen webpages with a warning that they are using cookies to analyze your information, and it’s those cookies that were being used to track Facebook users on third party pages.
Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia asked Downs if that was an usual way to do data mining, by using cookie information on third party sites.
“It’s out of the ordinary,” said Downs.
He said the kind of data Facebook was mining that would “most probably include your history, the fact that you were there (on a third party site) as well as who you are.”
He said, they would then, “tie that information into anything they know about you on Facebook.”
According to the lawsuit, that information was then sold to advertisers by Facebook.
Users accused Meta of violating federal and state privacy laws by using cookie tracking on third party sites.
The lawsuit says Facebook will have to delete all the improper data collected.
Sbraccia asked Downs how surprised he was at Facebook’s decision was to settle the suit instead of fighting it.
“My best guess is they were doing it some other way with another device as well and they don’t want the investigation to go any further,” said Downs. “Besides the ‘like’ button I’m guessing they are using something else to track more data and if people started to dig around, they’d find it.”
To be part of the lawsuit, you need to opt-in before the Sept. 22 deadline.
There is a vetting process for the suit.
You’ll need to submit a claim online and then if you are approved by the administrators of the lawsuit, you’ll be added to list of claimants.
You can access the forms to submit a claim here, as well as learn more about the lawsuit.