Judge approves Facebook's $20m 'Sponsored Stories' settlement

A US judge has approved Facebook's offer of $20m to settle a case over how users' 'likes' are fed into 'Sponsored Stories' advertising, with approximately half going to Facebook users.

A US judge has approved Facebook's $20m offer to settle a class action lawsuit concerning its 'Sponsored Stories' advertising program.

In an order on Monday, US District Judge Richard Seeborg gave final approval to the $20m settlement, the terms of which include Facebook having to implement measures that give users greater control over how their names and 'likes' are employed in connection with Sponsored Stories ads. 

Seeborg noted that settlement, "while not incorporating all features that some of the objectors might prefer, has significant value", according to Reuters

The five original plaintiffs in the class action against Facebook, filed in 2011, claimed that Facebook had violated users' right to privacy by revealing their 'likes' in advertisements without asking for their permission.

Judge Seeborg had rejected a previous $20m settlement offer by Facebook that was to be split evenly between the plaintiffs' lawyers and internet privacy groups. At the time, Seeborg believed the amount to be an arbitrary figure and questioned why no money was going to Facebook users.

Under the approved settlement, approximately 614,000 Facebook who joined the class action will receive payouts of $15 each, according to GigaOm, with the remaining $11m going to lawyers' fees and non-profit groups involved in internet privacy issues.

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