FB To Pay $397 To Illinois Residents As Part Of Photo-tagging System Lawsuit Verdict

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Social media platform Facebook (FB) will send a settlement payment of $397 to more than a million Illinois residents this week, as part of a legal battle over the platform's since-retired photo-tagging system, which made use of facial recognition.

It was around seven years ago that the 2015 class-action lawsuit was first filed, which accused Facebook of breaking a state privacy law, which prohibits companies from collecting biometric data without informing users. Facebook has come under severe attack for its use of facial recognition technology and last year Meta completely stopped the practice on Facebook and Instagram. However, reports suggest that the company never made any commitment to not use facial recognition in future products.

Even though it was first filed in Illinois, the class-action lawsuit was finally concluded at Facebook's home territory, i.e at the U.S. District Court for Northern California. Nevertheless, the court repeatedly denied Facebook's many attempts to dismiss the lawsuit and eventually certified the Illinois class-action. Facebook tried to appeal the case certification with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but the appeal was thrown out.

Facebook had initially agreed to pay $550 million as settlement, which at the time was the largest pay out from an online privacy class-action lawsuit. Later, a federal judge argued against this amount and finally, in 2021, the company agreed to a settlement total of $650 million.

The issue under debate was Facebook's old photo-tagging system, which relied on facial recognition to know users in photos and videos. Attorneys representing Illinois residents argued that the platform's "Suggested Tags" feature goes against the state's Biometric Information Privacy Act. Any Facebook user in Illinois who posted a photo of themselves or was tagged on the platform during a certain period of time was eligible to file a lawsuit. Nearly 1.6 million Illinois residents in total were included in the settlement.

A number of people posted in social media site Reddit that they had received their settlement checks via direct deposit or in the mail this week, though it has not reached everyone yet.

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