Google LLC settled a class-action lawsuit over it’s now-defunct Google Plus social media service on August 4, and former users received an e-mail stating they may be eligible to receive money from the $7.5 million settlement reached by the Internet company.
The e-mail received by users who were members of the Google service between January 1, 2015 and April 2, 2019, was titled, “Notice of Class Action Settlement re Google Plus,” and warned suspicious readers, “You are not being sued.” Without a personal greeting, and an offer for a cash payout, many recipients were unsure the e-mail was legitimate.
However, Google’s e-mail to users was real, as is the promised cash payout.
so I just got the google settlement email thing and I read "you are not being sued" and my first thought was holy shit I'm being sued pic.twitter.com/TCZKsyDKJI
— norma ¹ᴰ (@normamacedos) August 5, 2020
A Google spokesperson confirmed to Fast Company that the company sent out an e-mail from the handle firstname.lastname@example.org, which to many readers seemed fake.
— Jeni (@Jeni_H_2016) August 4, 2020
The compensation stems from a lawsuit brought against Google in October 2018, when users of their Google Plus platform possibly had their personal information leaked to third-party users after the platform experience software bugs between 2015 and 2018. Plaintiffs Matthew Matic, Zak Harris, Charles Olson, and Eileen M. Pinkowski filed a lawsuit on behalf of a putative class of Google Plus users who might’ve been affected by the software bugs. In April 2019, Google removed the platform from its service.
The information possibly leaked included users’ names, email addresses, gender, information about their occupations, and their home location, according to the plaintiffs’ motion in support of the settlement, which was filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose in “In Re Google Plus Profile Litigation.”
Here’s What Users Eligible for a Cash Payout Need to Do to Receive Their Money
The money will not automatically show up in people’s accounts. Those who have qualified for a cash payout are able to claim up to $12, after waiving their right to future litigation in the case. Those who received an e-mail and are eligible for the cash payout, have until October 8, 2020 to file a claim or to opt-out.
If you do nothing, you will not receive any money and will lose the right to sue Google and/or any other released entities regarding the legal claims in the case. The settlement excludes anyone who works for Google and anyone involved in the case or their immediate family members from receiving money.
Google also set up a website, GooglePlusDataLitigation.com, for those seeking further information on the lawsuit and the settlement money. Payments for those who submit a Valid Claim will be made by Electronic Payment (Paypal or Digital Check).
News of Google’s Putative Payout Was First Announced in January
While Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., has denied any wrongdoing, the company admitted that they found software bugs in its Google Plus social media platform which potentially exposed users’ personal information to unauthorized third parties, as first reported by Business Insurance in January.
The motion stated that there was no evidence that users’ personal data was accessed by third-party users. However, under the settlement agreement, users who file a claim will receive cash payments up to $12 as long as there are sufficient funds available. There an estimated 10 million people who used Google Plus while the service was exposed to the software bug.
The plaintiffs’ brief stated that the following mediation, Google will provide “quick relief for Settlement Class members, including payments for potentially disseminating their non-public information to unauthorized third-party application developers.”
“Importantly, the Personal Information of all Class members was never disseminated or accessed by hackers or other malicious third parties,” the brief continued, “but instead was potentially exposed to third-party software developers known to Google.”