On Monday evening, the Competitive Enterprise Institute Center for Class Action Fairness (CCAF) filed an objection arguing against a cynical settlement in a Facebook class action that provides $3.9 million in fees and expenses to the plaintiffs’ attorneys and only a vague 22-word addition to Facebook’s “Help Center” for the class members.
According to CCAF, not only are the class members receiving worthless injunctive relief while their lawyers walk away with millions, but no one even notified class members of the settlement. This poorly-noticed settlement is clearly unreasonable because Facebook could have inexpensively notified the class through the platform since all of the class members are Facebook users, and Facebook already conveys 60 billion personal messages per day.
“This is a grossly unfair settlement where plaintiffs' attorneys put their own interest in fees ahead of their clients,” said CCAF attorney and objector Anna St. John. “Class counsel also tried to hide that fact by telling class members about the settlement only via their law firms’ websites instead of using the obvious, efficient, and cost-effective method: Facebook.”
The settlement is a result of a privacy class action over Facebook’s treatment of URLs in internal messages between Facebook users. The message that will appear on Facebook’s help page says:
“We use tools to identify and store links shared in messages, including a count of the number of times links are shared.”
ABOUT: The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Class Action Fairness represents class members against unfair class action procedures and settlements. Originally founded by Ted Frank in 2009, the center has won millions of dollars for consumers and shareholders and won landmark precedents that safeguard consumers, investors, courts, and the general public.
Unfair settlements generally serve self-interested lawyers and third parties at the expense of absent class members, the group of people whose rights are traded away to settle a class action. Lawyers have an interest in their fees, defendants have an interest in cheaply disposing of a lawsuit, and the class’s interests can take a back seat in the process. CEI seeks to solve these problems by representing such class members pro bono and presenting judges with the other side of the argument.