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Twitter, Yelp and Others Settle 'Find Friends' Class Action While Apple Fights On

By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 07, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Saying your class-action is largely settled is like saying you're a little pregnant.

But that's the status in the proposed settlement of a high-profile invasion of privacy case. Twitter, Yelp, Instagram and others have agreed to pay $5.3 million to people who used their apps only to discover that their contacts had been uploaded through "Find Friends" and similar features.

Only problem is, "Find Friends" is a feature on iPhones as well, and Apple is not settling. The battle began in 2012, but the war may just be getting started.

Third Party Liabilities

Class members -- people who downloaded apps that used the feature between 2011 and 2012 -- probably think they get nothing in the deal. They will get 53 cents each, if they're lucky, after the lawyers and costs are paid in the settlement.

But the privacy issue has been resolved and, obviously, the companies will pay the settlement, attorney's fees, costs, etc. It's just that, in the beginning they didn't want to pay anything.

Yelp refused to pay because it said users consented to Yelp accessing their data and uploading it. The company threw in the towel, however, after the judge denied its motion for summary judgment.

Apple, on the other hand, is rejecting claims it deceived customers about the security of the data that was compromised through the third-party apps. According to the plaintiffs' counsel, the judge will hear their motion to certify a class of "tens of millions" of Apple customers in related action.

Settlement Proposal

Meanwhile, the proposed settlement is on the judge's desk.

Plaintiffs say in the proposal that the $5.3 million settlement is "substantial," given the potential for nominal damages and "the very real risk the jury could find no liability or award no damages."

If approved, the settlement will release Apple from aiding and abetting claims, but not the separate misrepresentation claims.

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