Illinois Facebook users are finding some relief in the most recent legal settlement against the social media company. According to Illinois law, companies may not collect facial recognition information and data without prior consent of the detected individual. One of Facebook’s features tags photos through the use of software that distinguishes facial similarities. The lawsuit reached class action status and was originally filed in 2015. Claimants argued that Facebook did not obtain prior authorization of Illinois residents who use Facebook. Instead the social media company implemented the feature as a default for users.
The original proposed settlement offer by Facebook was just $550 million, which would result in a payout of only $150-300 a person. If the dispute led to a trial, Facebook would have been potentially liable for about $47 billion, providing $5,000 to each person affected. In the end, Facebook agreed to pay $650 million in damages. This comes at a time when Facebook was dealing with other matters of concern. The recent protests that have filtered through the nation are not limited to the streets, but rather, continue on social media platforms. Facebook is no exception.
Facebook intends to take a stand against allowing political controversy to flood its platform. For instance, it has already removed political campaigns that may generate hateful images or messages. Additionally, Facebook is establishing an algorithm that potentially catches statements of intolerance. The purpose is to pull any posts or messages that elicit violence or hate, or potentially threaten the civil rights or liberties of a specific individual or group. These measures follow in response to Facebook’s failed audit that focused on civil rights. Although a $650 million settlement may be perceived as an incredibly large amount of money, the settlement may also be seen as a step in the right direction to ensuring the protection of rights and freedoms of all users, in all states, across the country.