Google recently settled a class-action lawsuit over its now-defunct Google+ social media service. This social network, designed to compete with Facebook, had a software glitch that potentially exposed the personal information—including names, email addresses, occupations, and ages—of up to 500,000 users since 2015. Google discovered and fixed the problem in 2018, but initially decided not to go public with it.
After learning of the data breach, plaintiffs Matthew Matic, Zak Harris, Charles Olson, and Eileen M. Pinkowski filed a lawsuit alleging various legal claims on behalf of a putative class of Google+ users allegedly harmed by the software bugs. Recently, the judge in the case granted preliminary approval of a $7.5 million settlement, even though Google has denied any wrongdoing and says no class members sustained damages or injuries due to the software issue.
Under the terms of the settlement, if you had a Google+ account between January 1, 2015, and April 2, 2019, you could be eligible for a cash payout from the company. Class members who submit a valid claim will receive a pro-rata share of the settlement fund up to a maximum of $12, and perhaps as little as $5, depending on the number of claimants. To get this paltry payout, you have to fill out a claim form before October 8, 2020. If you submit a valid claim, you’ll get a payment; but you’ll also give up your right to sue Google and the other companies involved. Is it worth bothering to file a claim? That’s up to you. The payout might cover the cost of a cup of coffee or a month of Netflix.
Alternatively, you could choose to opt out of the settlement or file an objection with the court. The deadline for opting out or objecting is also October 8, 2020. If you do nothing, you won’t get a payment, you’ll be bound by the settlement’s terms, and you’ll lose the right to sue over the legal claims in this case.