Israel: Facebook to pay millions in class action settlement

The District Court of Tel-Aviv (Judge Yitzhak Inbar) recently accepted a settlement agreement in a putative class action suit against Facebook. According to the settlement agreement, Facebook will pay 9 million NIS (approximately 2.4 million US Dollars) and will change the mechanisms through which it lets users send invitations to join the social network. The cause of action underlying the putative class action suit was emails and text massages that include an invitation to join the social network, which were sent to individuals who are not Facebook users, and who did not give their prior consent to receive commercial messages from Facebook. The damages will not be paid directly to the class action members, but will be donated to nonprofit organizations active in Israel.

As part of the settlement, Facebook will pay each of the lead plaintiffs 169,000 NIS (approximately 45,000 US Dollars) and will pay the plaintiff’s attorneys a sum of 2.3 million NIS (approximately 600,000 US Dollars) in attorney fees. Attorney fees will be paid in installments once the court confirms that Facebook performed its obligations under the settlement. 
In its answer to the class action suit, Facebook argued, among others, that the messages were sent not by the social network itself, but by the social network’s users who invited their acquaintances and contacts to join Facebook (using the “friend finder” tool). According to the settlement, Facebook undertook, among others, to allow its Israeli users to individually choose which of their contacts they want to send invitations to (in addition to the existing option of sending the invitation to all contacts). The company also undertook not to send more than three invitation reminders. Facebook further undertook to give users who send email invitations control over the content of the invitation message.

Source: Globes (In Hebrew, by: Ela Levy-Weinrib).  The judgment outlining the settlement's terms, in Hebrew, is available here: Cohen et al. v. Facebook Inc. et al.