Frequently Asked Questions
Why is there a notice?
A Court authorized this notice to inform you about a proposed Settlement that may affect your rights relating to injunctive and declaratory relief. This notice explains the nature of the litigation, the general terms of the proposed Settlement, and how it may affect you. The Settlement will not affect your rights to sue Facebook for monetary damages.
What is this litigation about?
On September 28, 2018, Facebook announced that it had been the subject of a cyberattack resulting in the compromise of certain information that users had provided to Facebook. The attack affected approximately 4 million users in the United States. The attackers gained access to names and email addresses or phone numbers of all affected users. In addition, for a portion of the affected users, the attackers gained access to other information, consisting of (a) fields of information found in the “About” section of the user’s Profile, to the extent the users had filled out those Profile fields, namely, username, first name, last name, full name, gender and date of birth, and, to the extent the fields were populated, workplace, education, relationship status, religious views, hometown, self-reported current city, and website and certain other information from the user’s Profile, namely the locale/language setting used to determine the display language for the page; the types of device(s) used by the user to access Facebook; the last 10 places the user “checked into” or was “tagged” in on Facebook, if any; the people or pages on Facebook followed by the user, if any; and the user’s 15 most recent searches using the Facebook search bar, if any.
The lawsuit was brought against Facebook on behalf of a class of U.S. users whose data was compromised in the Data Breach, based on the plaintiff’s claim that Facebook failed to adequately protect users’ personal information. The lawsuit originally sought on behalf of the class both monetary damages as well as injunctive relief (i.e., a court order) requiring changes to Facebook’s practices regarding data security. Although the Court concluded that a class could not be certified for damages because the plaintiff had not demonstrated a cognizable injury under the law that could support the plaintiff’s claim for damages on behalf of the class, the Court certified a class for injunctive relief. Facebook denies any wrongdoing, and no court or other entity has made any judgment or other determination that Facebook has done anything wrong. The current complaint filed in this litigation, which describes the specific legal claims alleged by the plaintiff, the alleged facts giving rise to the lawsuit, and the relief sought in litigation, is available on the Important Documents page.
Who is the defendant in the lawsuit?
The defendant is Facebook, Inc.
What is a class action?
Even if you have not filed your own lawsuit against Facebook regarding the Data Breach, you will benefit from the commitments provided by this Settlement because the litigation is proceeding as a class action. In a class action, one or more people file a lawsuit to assert legal claims on behalf of themselves and other persons who have experienced the same or similar circumstances.
In November 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California determined that it could not certify the case as a class action for damages, because the plaintiff had not shown any injury cognizable under the law that could support a damages claim on behalf of a class. However, the Court certified a class for purposes of seeking injunctive relief. The Court appointed the plaintiff as class representative to represent not only his own personal interests but the interests of all members of the class, and that same class representative is the “Settlement Class Representative” now.
Why is there a settlement?
Settlements avoid the costs and uncertainty of a trial and related appeals, while providing benefits to Settlement Class Members when the Settlement becomes final. The Court has not decided the case in favor of any party. Instead, both sides have agreed to a settlement. The Settlement Class Representative, who represents the interests of all Settlement Class Members, and the attorneys for the Settlement Class (“Class Counsel,” see Question 7) believe that the Settlement is in the best interests of the Settlement Class Members.
SETTLEMENT CLASS MEMBERSHIP
How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?
You are a Settlement Class Member, and you are affected by this Settlement, if:
You are a Facebook user residing in the United States whose personal information was compromised in the Data Breach announced by Facebook on September 28, 2018.
However, the following entities and individuals are not Settlement Class Members:
- Facebook, any entity in which Facebook has a controlling interest, and Facebook’s officers, directors, legal representatives, successors, subsidiaries, and assigns; and
- Any judge, justice, or judicial officer presiding over this matter and the members of their immediate families and judicial staff.
If you have received an email Notice of this Settlement, you have been identified by the Settlement Administrator as a Settlement Class Member.
If you are still not sure whether you are a Settlement Class Member, you may call the Settlement Administrator toll free number at 833-840-9003, to inquire about whether you are a Settlement Class Member.
THE LAWYERS FOR SETTLEMENT CLASS MEMBERS
Do I have a lawyer in the case?
Yes. The Court appointed as “Class Counsel” John A. Yanchunis of Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group, Ariana J. Tadler of Tadler Law LLP, and Andrew N. Friedman of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC, to represent you and the other Settlement Class Members. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense. Class Counsel’s addresses are the following:
CLASS COUNSEL Ariana J. Tadler
TADLER LAW LLP
One Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10119
Telephone: (212) 946-9453
John A. Yanchunis
MORGAN & MORGAN
COMPLEX LITIGATION GROUP
201 N. Franklin St., 7th Floor
Tampa, FL 33602
Telephone: (813) 223-5505
Facsimile: (813) 223-5402
Andrew N. Friedman
COHEN MILSTEIN SELLERS & TOLL PLLC
1100 New York Ave. NW, Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone: (202) 408-4600
Facsimile: (202) 408-4699
How will Class Counsel be paid?
Class Counsel will make an application for reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses, which must be approved by the Court before they will be paid.
Class Counsel will also ask the Court to approve a Service Award of up to $5,000 to compensate the Settlement Class Representative.
The Court will decide the amount of attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses, and the amount of any Service Award to be awarded. Facebook has not agreed to any amount. Any attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses or Service Award awarded will be paid by Facebook. Class Counsel intends to request a fee of no more than $16,000,000 and to be reimbursed expenses of no more than $1,700,000. Class Counsel’s application for an award of attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses, is due February 8, 2021. This application will be made available on this website before the deadline for you to comment or object to the Settlement. Facebook will review the application and intends to object to any fees, costs, or expenses it believes to be unreasonable.
BENEFITS FOR SETTLEMENT CLASS MEMBERS
What benefits does the Settlement provide?
The Settlement provides a number of security commitments by Facebook designed to prevent attacks similar to the Data Breach. These commitments relate to, among other things, Facebook’s tools, processes, and systems for detecting suspicious activity and account compromise, authenticating users, and responding to and containing a security incident. In addition, Facebook will commit to obtaining certain outside assessments related to product security and vulnerability management controls, and to continue employing at least one senior security executive with direct reporting authority and obligations to Facebook’s Board of Directors.
Facebook’s compliance with these commitments will be assessed annually by an independent third-party expert for a period of five years.
Facebook will also certify that the vulnerability that was exploited in the Data Breach has been eliminated, that it is no longer possible to generate access tokens in the manner that was done in the Data Breach, and that all access tokens generated through the vulnerability that was exploited have been invalidated.
In the event that technological or industry developments, or intervening changes in law render any part of the security commitments obsolete or make compliance by Facebook unreasonable or technically impractical, Facebook will provide notice to Class Counsel within ten (10) days and propose a modification. If Facebook, Class Counsel, and Class Counsel’s expert agree that the elimination or modification of the business practice is appropriate, they will jointly seek permission from the Court to eliminate or modify the business practice. If they fail to reach an agreement, Facebook may seek permission from the Court, and Class Counsel may oppose that request.
LEGAL RIGHTS RESOLVED THROUGH THE SETTLEMENT
How does the Settlement affect my rights?
If the Settlement becomes final, you will release all claims for declaratory or injunctive relief against Facebook related to the Data Breach. You will no longer have any right to file a lawsuit against Facebook seeking a declaratory judgment or injunction related to the Data Breach—whether or not you are currently aware of any such claims. This Settlement does not release any claims you may have against Facebook for money damages related to the Data Breach.
All of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you. You can access the Settlement Agreement and read the specific details of the legal claims being released on the Important Documents page.
OBJECTING TO OR COMMENTING ON THE SETTLEMENT
How do I tell the Court that I like the Settlement, or that I don’t like the Settlement?
You can comment on, or object to, the Settlement, Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses, and/or the request for Service Award for the Settlement Class Representative.
You object to the Settlement when you disagree with some aspect of the Settlement and think the Court should not give Final Approval to the Settlement. An objection, like a comment, allows your views to be heard in Court.
Filing an objection means you are asking the Court to deny approval to the Settlement, Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses, or the Settlement Class Representative’s request for a Service Award. You can’t ask the Court to order a different settlement—it can only approve or deny the Settlement that has been reached. If the Court denies approval of the Settlement, the lawsuit will continue. If that is what you want to happen, you may so state in an objection.
If you choose to make an objection or comment, it must be in writing and contain the following:
- The name and case number of this lawsuit (Adkins, et al. v. Facebook, Inc., Case No. C 18-05982 WHA (JSC));
- Your full name, mailing address, and email address or telephone number;
- If you did not receive a notice of the Settlement, a brief explanation of why you believe you are a Settlement Class Member; and
- A statement of the reasons or basis for your objection.
To be considered by the Court, your objection must be either (1) filed at any location of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on or before March 8, 2021, or (2) mailed, postmarked no later than March 8, 2021, to both of the following recipients at these addresses:
THE COURT The Hon. William Alsup
United States District Judge
San Francisco Courthouse, Courtroom 12 – 19th Floor
450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102
THE SETTLEMENT ADMINISTRATOR Adkins et al. v. Facebook, Inc.
P.O. Box 58220
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Can I exclude myself from the settlement?
No, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) and the applicable law, it is not possible to opt out of the Settlement.
FINAL APPROVAL HEARING
When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?
The Court will hold the Final Approval Hearing at 8:00 a.m. on April 8, 2021 in Courtroom 12 of the United States Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, 19th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94102. The hearing may be postponed to a different date or time or location without notice. Please check Judge William Alsup’s Calendar https://www.cand.uscourts.gov/judges/alsup-william-wha/ for any updates about the Settlement or the Final Approval Hearing. If the date or time of the Final Approval Hearing changes, an update to the Settlement Website or the Court’s Calendar will be the only way you will be informed of the change. Due to COVID-19, the hearing may be conducted telephonically. If the Court conducts the Final Approval Hearing telephonically, dial-in information will be provided in advance and on the Settlement Website.
At the Final Approval Hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. The Court may listen to people who appear at the hearing and who have provided notice of their intent to appear at the hearing (see Question 11). The Court may also consider any application by Settlement Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses, as well as a separate Service Award for the Settlement Class Representative. Any motions for attorney fees, costs, and expenses will be posted on the website after they are filed, and not later than 10 days before the Final Approval Hearing. At or after the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement.
Do I have to come to the hearing?
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. You may attend at your own expense if you wish. If you submit a written objection, you do not have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you submitted your written objection on time, that is sufficient for the Court to consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it is not required. If the Court conducts the hearing telephonically, you may appear by telephone.
May I speak at the hearing?
At the hearing, the Court, at its discretion, will hear any objections and arguments concerning the fairness of the Settlement.
You may attend, but you do not have to. As described above in response to Question 11, you may speak at the Final Approval Hearing if (a) you have filed or mailed your written comment or objection to the appropriate recipient on or before the postmark or filing deadline and included the necessary information stated in Section 11 above, and (b) stated in your comment or objection that you intend to appear at the Final Approval Hearing.
What happens if I do nothing?
If you do nothing, and the Settlement is approved, you will not be eligible to sue Facebook for claims for injunctive and declaratory relief related to the Data Breach. The Settlement will not affect your rights to sue Facebook for monetary damages.
GETTING MORE INFORMATION
How do I get more information?
The notice summarizes the proposed Settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement itself. You can get a copy of the Settlement Agreement, view other case documents, and get additional information and updates by visiting www.facebookdatabreach.com. All of the case documents that have been filed publicly in this case are also available online through the Court’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov. This case is called Adkins, et al. v. Facebook, Inc., and is case number is 18-05982-WHA. You may obtain case documents by visiting the office of the Clerk of the Court for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Court holidays. Due to COVID-19, the Clerk of the Court may have different hours, and you should review the Clerk of the Court’s website in advance of traveling to the Clerk of the Court at https://www.cand.uscourts.gov/about/clerks-office/.
You can also get additional information or request a copy of the Settlement Agreement by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org, or writing to the Settlement Administrator at
Adkins, et al. v. Facebook, Inc. Settlement Administrator 1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210 Philadelphia, PA 19103
PLEASE DO NOT TELEPHONE THE COURT OR THE COURT CLERK’S OFFICE TO INQUIRE ABOUT THIS SETTLEMENT OR THE CLAIM PROCESS.