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Preliminary Settlement Approval Granted In Facebook Metadata Scraping Class Action

‹ All News August 3, 2022

On August 3, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted preliminary settlement approval to a class defined as: “All persons in the United States who installed the Facebook Messenger and Facebook Lite apps for Android, and granted Facebook / Meta permission to access their contacts.”  The case is captioned Olin et al. v. Facebook, Inc., Case No. 18-cv-01881-RS.

 

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook exploited a vulnerability in the permission settings for the Facebook Messenger smartphone application (the “app”) in prior versions of the Android operating system (“OS”). When users install the app, the lawsuit alleges that users are prompted to grant Facebook access to their “contacts” with the following text: “Allow Facebook Messenger access to your contacts?” But upon doing so, the lawsuit alleges that Facebook Messenger app for Android scrapes users’ call and text logs. That is, Facebook scraped call and text data, including whether each call was “Incoming,” “Outgoing,” or “Missed,” the date and time of each call, the number dialed, the individual called, and the duration of each call. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook then incorporated these data into its profile on each user, which it monetizes for advertising purposes. Facebook has since ceased this practice.

 

After the filing of this lawsuit, Facebook / Meta ceased uploading Call and Text History Data from persons in the United States through the Facebook Messenger or Facebook Lite apps for Android. As part of the settlement, Meta confirms that it has not uploaded Call and Text History Data from persons in the United States through the Facebook Messenger or Facebook Lite apps for Android since March 2019.

 

Further, Meta has agreed to delete all Call and Text History Data uploaded from persons in the United States though the Facebook Messenger or Facebook Lite apps for Android devices that Meta is not otherwise legally obligated to preserve by jurisdictions outside of the United States within 45 days of the effective date (which shall be seven (7) days after the final settlement approval order and final judgment have been entered and become Final).

 

The court has set a final approval hearing at 1:30 p.m. Pacific on October 20, 2022, at the United States Courthouse located at 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, California 94102, Courtroom 3 – 17th Floor, before the Honorable Richard Seeborg.  The purposes of the final approval hearing will be to: (i) determine whether the proposed Settlement Agreement should be finally approved by the Court as fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the Settlement Class; (ii) determine whether judgment should be entered pursuant to the Settlement Agreement, dismissing the Action with prejudice and releasing the Released Persons of all claims stated in Section 6.1 of the Settlement Agreement; (iii) determine whether the Settlement Class should be finally certified; (iv) rule on Class and service awards; (v) consider any properly filed objections; and (vi) consider any other matters necessary in connection with the final approval of the Settlement Agreement.

 

Each Settlement Class Member shall be given a full opportunity to comment on or object to the Settlement Agreement, and to participate at a Final Approval Hearing. Comments or objections must be in writing, and must include (1) the name and case number of the Action (Olin et al. v. Facebook, Inc., Case No. 18-cv-01881-RS); (2) the Settlement Class (3) the personal signature of the Settlement Class member; (4) the grounds for any objection; (5) the name and contact information of any and all attorneys representing, advising, or assisting with the comment or objection, or who may profit from pursuing any objection; and (6) a statement indicating whether the Settlement Class Member intends to appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either personally or through counsel.

 

To be considered, written comments or objections must be submitted to the Court either by mailing them to Class Action Clerk, United States District Court for the Northern District of California, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, or by filing them in person at any location of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, by September 22, 2022. No Class Member shall be entitled to be heard at the Final Approval Hearing, whether individually or through counsel, unless written notice of motion to appear at the Final Approval Hearing is timely filed, or postmarked for mail to the Court by September 22, 2022.

 

More information can be found in the following documents:

Third Amended Class Action Complaint

Settlement Agreement

Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Approval

Declaration in Support of Preliminary Approval

Order Granting Preliminary Approval

Order Modifying Preliminary Approval Dates