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Initial settlement nod given by U.S. judge in favor of Facebook over privacy lawsuit

Facebook has breathe fresh air last Monday following a district court judge’s decision for a preliminary approval to the company’s offer of settlement against a class action lawsuit filed against it for violating privacy rights.

Richard Seeborg, a U.S. District Judge in California previously rejected Facebook’s settlement offer last August. The social networking company was accused of violating privacy rights of its users through its “Sponsored Stories” feature. Seeborg at the time demanded answers from Facebook why the settlement did not provide an option to award money to Facebook members after the company used their personal information.

However, Facebook revised its settlement offer, prompting Seeborg to hand down a revised ruling as well. In the said ruling, he said that the new Facebook settlement “falls within the range of possible approval as fair, reasonable and adequate.”

The new proposal, according to Facebook and plaintiff lawyers, users will be awarded money of up to $10 each from a $20 million settlement fund. The rest of the money will be given to charity.

Facebook also hinted of a new tool that would let users see contents that may have been displayed in Sponsored Stories so they can opt if they want to.

The new settlement offer is awaiting final approval. If it passes, it will signal the end of the 2011 lawsuit filed by five Facebook Inc members.

The class action lawsuit accused Facebook of using Sponsored Stories feature in publicizing member’s “likes” of certain brands without paying them or offering a way to opt out. The case involved almost over 100 million Facebook members. The lawsuit cited a violation of California law.

Facebook expressed a positive acceptance of the judge’s decision. A company spokesman said that Facebook was  “pleased that the court has granted preliminary approval of the proposed settlement.” plaintiff lawyers did not give any comment about the decision.

Class members as well as outside groups will be given a chance to object to the new settlement before judge Seeborg will hand out a final verdict. He set a date for the hearing on the fairness of the deal on June 28, 2013.

source: reuters