Gas, groceries and getaways: How suburban Facebook users say they'll use settlement cash

  • Suburban Facebook users say they're buying gas, paying off debts or splurging on themselves with their share of a $650 million settlement to a lawsuit accusing the social network of violating their privacy. Illinois users are receiving checks of $200 to $400 through the settlement.

    Suburban Facebook users say they're buying gas, paying off debts or splurging on themselves with their share of a $650 million settlement to a lawsuit accusing the social network of violating their privacy. Illinois users are receiving checks of $200 to $400 through the settlement. AP Photo/Richard Drew, File

  • Sakina Suratwala of Schaumburg bought patio furniture with the payment she got from Facebook as part of a class action lawsuit settlement.

    Sakina Suratwala of Schaumburg bought patio furniture with the payment she got from Facebook as part of a class action lawsuit settlement. Courtesy of Sakina Suratwala

 
 
Updated 5/19/2022 10:33 AM

$650 million doesn't go as far as it used to. Just ask the 1.6 million or so Illinois Facebook users who last week began receiving payments as part of a settlement in a class-action lawsuit.

The lawsuit claimed the social network violated state privacy laws by using facial recognition technology to create face templates without notice and users' consent. The $650 million settlement covered those users for whom Facebook created and stored a template after June 7, 2011. Users had to have lived in Illinois for six months after that date and had to file a claim by November 2020.

 

The payout isn't exactly hefty once divided by 1.6 million people, but recipients responding through social media said it will help.

Many indicated they will use the payments, which range from $200 to $400, to buy gas or groceries. Others said they will deposit their settlement into savings accounts or use it pay off debts.

Some, like Mount Prospect resident Jeff Blume, say they will use the money -- $397 in his case -- to treat themselves.

"Let's just say I didn't use it wisely," said Blume, 55. "I used it as fun money"

To that end, another person intends to purchase a new golf club. His wife will spend her share on gifts for their granddaughter.

One couple plan to use the money to pay their kids' youth sports fees. Another person will purchase new tires.

Beth Radtke of Schaumburg will put the money toward new brakes for her car. Another will use it to offset the cost of a knee replacement.

Katherine Philippe, a retired Palatine High School teacher now living in downstate Normal, intends to use the "free money" to do good. She will split it between the charities World Central Kitchen, Doctors Without Borders and Razom for Ukraine, a pro-democracy organization founded in 2014 that is working to provide medicine and hospital equipment and supplies to that war-torn nation.

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The similarly charity-minded Kathy Wiesner wrote in the Everything Palatine Facebook group that she will donate her proceeds to Rescue Pack, an organization that provides pet food and supplies to animal shelters and struggling owners.

Kevin Friduss donated his portion of the settlement to his children's' 529 college funds.

"When the settlement was first announced, I let my co-workers and other family know that it was not a scam and they should all fill (the application) out," the Deerfield resident wrote. "Unfortunately, it seems like the majority of Illinoisans probably disregarded it."

Family also was foremost on Kat Hayna's mind. The Palatine mother of two used her payout to purchase baby formula, the cost of which has spiked due to recent shortages.

"The rest is going to pay for a handyman to build a play set for my other daughter," said Hayna, 35. "I need to keep my kids fed and happy in such uncertain times."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Sakina Suratwala, 45, of Schaumburg bought lawn chairs for the family.

A weekend getaway is in store for Palatine resident Stephanie Sheldon, 36, and her husband. They're taking their kids to the Wisconsin Dells.

Not every claimant is so inclined.

Lennie Jarrat, 58, says he will use the money to move out of Illinois.

"I've had enough of the high taxes, fees and poorly managed government," wrote the Palatine resident.

• ABC 7 contributed to this report

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