PhotoA U.S. district court judge has approved a $20 million settlement to be paid by Facebook to users whose names and likenesses were used in "sponsored story" ads.

Facebook users who complained about their likenesses being used in the so-called sponsored stories will at last be getting a few dollars -- about $15 -- for their trouble.

The "stories" were really ads that showed users that their "friends" had clicked on "like" buttons for various products. Not only were the "stories" not stories, the users featured in the endorsements had not agreed to having their image and name used.

They hadn't been paid anything either. After all, why sell out if you don't get any money for it?

Facebook Aug. 27, 2013, 6:59 p.m.
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Now, $15 may not sound like much but the judge had at times expressed skepticism that anyone had been harmed very much by the unwitting endorsements, sleazy and unethical though it may have been for Facebook to shanghai users' good names.

"We are pleased that the settlement has received final approval," Facebook said in a statement.

Money that's left over will go to a group of non-profits agreed upon by the plaintiffs, including the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 

Facebook says it doesn't do sponsored stories anymore. Actually, it does. It just calls them something else, but that's another, um, story.

The suit was dragged on since 2011, when it was filed by five plaintiffs. About 7,000 users have opted out of the settlement, leaving them free to file their own lawsuits.


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