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Facebook’s $90 Million ‘Like’ Button Tracking Suit Pact Approved

Nov. 14, 2022, 4:16 PM

Facebook will pay $90 million to settle a long-running lawsuit over the use of browser cookies and the Facebook “Like” button to track user activity on the internet.

Judge Edward J. Davila of the US District Court for the Northern District of California granted final approval to the settlement Nov. 10, after giving the deal preliminary approval in March.

Perrin Davis, Brian Lentz and the other plaintiffs claimed in the 2011-filed lawsuit that Facebook, now known as Meta Platforms Inc., tracked users’ internet activity on pages that displayed a “Like” button using “cookies,” or small text files the server creates and stores on the user’s computer.

Facebook’s user tracking violated the Wiretap Act, the Stored Communications Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and several California consumer protection statutes, the lawsuit alleged. The case consolidated similar complaints filed on behalf of U.S. residents in 10 states, including Alabama, California and Texas.

Davila granted Facebook’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit in a 2017 ruling, but the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned the dismissal in part and remanded the case to the district court in 2020. The parties provided the court with a notice of settlement shortly after the US Supreme Court turned down Facebook’s petition for a writ of certiorari.

The class includes all Facebook users who visited non-Facebook websites between April 22, 2010 and September 26, 2011 that displayed the Facebook “Like” button, a feature that allegedly allowed Facebook to track their visits. Class members provided over 1.5 million valid claims for relief.

The settlement provides for just over $61 million to be distributed among class members, after deductions for attorneys’ fees and costs, or $39.21 per member, the order said. Class counsel are seeking $26.1 million in fees.

DiCello Levitt LLC, Grygiel Law LLC, and Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC represented the class. Cooley LLP, Bergeson LLP, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP represented Facebook.

The case is In Re Facebook Internet Tracking Litigation, N.D. Cal., No. 5:12-md-02314, 11/10/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Brown in St. Louis at ChrisBrown@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com