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Meta Agrees to $51-Million Settlement for Using Names and Photographs without Telling Anyone

Facebook users in BC and three other provinces may be eligible for a share of 51-Million dollars that Meta has agreed to pay for violating privacy laws. 


The social media giant has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit that was launched by a BC woman over the use of names and photographs of people on Facebook without their knowledge. 


If a person had liked a product, Facebook’s Sponsored Stories advertising program created a news feed endorsement without the user being notified. 


The case was first launched in BC, and then expanded to include Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador. 


The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Christopher Rhone of the Vancouver law firm Branch MacMaster, says BC Supreme Court ruled Meta had violated the privacy laws of those four provinces. 


He says an appeal was launched by the company, but a settlement was reached before it returned to court. 


Rhone says the compensation will likely include all Facebook users who resided in the four provinces and were on the platform between January 1, 2011, and May 30, 2014, and used their real names for their profile along with a clearly identifiable photograph of themselves. 


He says because there is no way to know if a person was in a sponsored story or not, “we are working on the assumption that pretty much everybody that was a member of Facebook during that time frame would have been in at least one story, so long as they were somewhat active on Facebook.” 


Rhone says the approval of the settlement and the method of distributing the money will be decided by BC Supreme Court in Vancouver in March. 


He says the court ruling and the size of the final settlement send a strong message that it’s not okay to use the names and photographs of people in Canada without first notifying them. 


Rhone says companies in the United States and other countries doing business here need to ensure they understand our privacy laws.

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