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Twitter, Yelp, Instagram Pay $5.3M to Settle Privacy Lawsuit

May 1, 2017

Eight App Makers Settle Class Action Lawsuit over Apple User Privacy Issues

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Eight app makers have reached a preliminary settlement that would resolve a class action lawsuit alleging privacy issues among Apple users. The app makers, which include Twitter, Yelp and Instagram, have agreed to pay $5.3 million to settle allegations that they inappropriately accessed contacts using Apple mobile devices.

Parker Waichman LLP is a national law firm with decades of experience representing consumers in various class action lawsuits. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a class action lawsuit.

According to court records, the class action represents 7 million people affected by the alleged privacy issue. The lawsuit was filed in 2013, naming the app makers and Apple as defendants. The suit was filed after the New York Times reported that many phone apps appeared to violate Apple privacy policies by accessing users' address books.

The court papers were filed on April 3, 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar has been overseeing the litigation; the settlement is pending his approval. In their motion, the app makers state "The Settlement Agreement falls well within the 'range of reasonableness' applicable at the preliminary approval stage. The App Defendants deny that they are liable or that any class member was harmed, but do not oppose this motion and will cooperate in the settlement process,"

"The settlement agreement is the product of protracted and highly adversarial litigation, spanning five years and reflected in the case's procedural history before the court, together with extensive and complex negotiations between and among the parties and their experienced and informed counsel,"

App companies in the settlement include: Twitter, Yelp, Instagram, Foursquare, Foodspotting, Gowalla, Kik Interactive, and Kong Technologies, formerly known as Path. The settlement would not resolve misrepresentation allegations against Apple.

Previously, Yelp tried to have the dismissed. However, Judge Tigar rejected the motion, stating that the case should go to trial.

In the consolidated class action, only one class has been certified. A class was certified against Path, now called Kong Technologies, in the summer of 2016. The app, which allows users share photos and messages, automatically uploaded users' contacts from their phone over a two-month period in late 2011 an early 2012, Judge Tigar found in July 2016.

The settlement would apply to nearly 7 million Apple users who downloaded the apps and turned on the "add friends", "find friends" or "suggest friends" feature. The class action proposes to represent people who downloaded the app between 2009 and 2012.

Other Social Media Lawsuits and Settlements

Other Social Media Lawsuits and Settlements

This is not the first time a social media company has been accused of accessing user information without their permission. In 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed against Facebook alleging that the company used users' "likes" of certain advertisers in "Sponsored Stores". The suit said that users were not allowed to opt-out of the sponsored stories, nor were they paid for having their information used.

In 2013, Facebook agreed to pay $20 million to settle the class action lawsuit. The company also agreed to give users more control over how their information is shared. According to court filings, advertisers paid Facebook nearly $234 million for Sponsored Stories between January 2011 and August 2012.

The case was filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.

Facebook removed Sponsored Stories in June 2013, according to Quartz.

A class action lawsuit is when one lawsuit represents multiple plaintiffs against a common defendant. The plaintiff class, as they are collectively called, allege being wronged by the defendant in the same way. All the class members are essentially treated as one plaintiff. This differs from a mass tort, where similar lawsuits are grouped together in one court. In a mass tort, such as a multidistrict litigation (MDL), plaintiff claims are separate and therefore treated individually.

Class action lawsuits are often formed when an individual plaintiff's claim would be too small to pursue on its own. It would not make sense to go to court over $15, for instance. However, if a company cheats millions of people $15 each, then that adds up to a substantial amount. Pursuing a class action lawsuit can hold a company liable for allegedly unfair business practices.

Filing a Class Action Lawsuit

If you or someone you know is interested in filing a class action lawsuit, contact Parker Waichman today. Our experienced attorneys offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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