The number of claims filed in the $725 million Facebook privacy settlement may constitute the largest class in a lawsuit in U.S. history, lawyers said in a San Francisco court Thursday.
The administrator in charge of vetting claims has received more than 28 million applications for a payment, said Lesley Weaver, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case.
“As far as we can tell that’s the largest number of claims ever filed in a class action in the United States,” Weaver said.
Of the 28 million filed, about 17 million have been preliminarily validated, meaning at least 17 million people will be getting a piece of the massive settlement if and when it’s given final approval.
About 2 million claims were duplicates, 8 million were flagged as potentially fraudulent, and there were still about 1 million left to review, the lawyers explained.
Once the total number of eligible people is finalized, we’ll know how many people will be sharing the $725 million settlement – but first there are some deductions.
The lawyers in the case are requesting about $180 million in attorneys’ fees. That chops down the settlement fund to $545 million.
The next major deduction are administrative fees. Essentially, an administrator is appointed by the court to set up the settlement website, look at claimants’ information, verify they’re eligible, and send them what they’re due. At this point, it’s not clear how much the administrator is charging.
The pot shrinks by another $120,000 because each of the eight plaintiffs who represented all Facebook users in the case is entitled to $15,000.
Once all that happens, the final pot of money will be divvied up between the 17 million or more eligible recipients – but not equally. Those who had a Facebook period for longer will get a larger sum. That makes predicting the exact amount you’ll receive difficult to do in advance, but class counsel estimated a median payment size of $30 when speaking in court on Thursday.
Judge Vince Chhabria gave the lawyers representing the plaintiffs another week to file some additional documents with the court. Once the judge gives the settlement final approval, we’ll be one step closer to payments being sent out. However, there could be appeals, which would delay payments.
Facebook parent company Meta agreed to pay the sum to settle claims it allowed people’s personal data to be shared with third parties. The most famous third party to get access was Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm that supported Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Meta agreed to the payout, but denies any wrongdoing.