All Of This Is Happening And You Didn’t Even Know


I hope everyone had a great weekend! It finally hit me when I was in Chicago, that I only had two more runs before the big race. For those who are counting, that’s a total of 8 runs. 8.
I wouldn’t call that training, but we’ll see how it goes.

In Case You Missed It

In case you missed it Facebook is being sued.
Well, they basically got caught mishandling user data, making it available, or in some cases selling it to third parties. Most notably, Cambridge Analytica, who used this data to build out voter profiles and was hired for Trumps 2016 presidential campaign.
Cambridge Analytica has already been under the microscope for years now, but it looks like the blowback is quickly spreading to adjacent parties.
Making this data available is illegal because it goes against things outlined in the Privacy Policy. You know, the 300-page documents everyone blindly agrees to without actually reading it. It turns out somebody read it, and that somebody was a lawyer (just another reason I am not a lawyer).
As part of the lawsuit, Facebook agreed to a $725 million settlement being paid out to “anyone who had a Facebook account between 2007 and 2022”. The money will be split across everyone who makes a claim here.
I anticipate the payout will be small (probably less than a dollar) since Facebook has 2.8 billion users. So congrats, you’ll get a few cents for potentially being exploited.
You bet I still made a claim. Cha Ching.


Not My First Rodeo

A few years back, a settlement involving Tyson chicken went viral, and if you know me, then you know I was raised on Tyson frozen chicken.
I don’t quite remember what the lawsuit was about, but the payout was much bigger. Something like $20, which is much more significant than the Facebook payout will be.
This $20 dollar turns out to be on par with the average payout when looking at some of the data from past years.

The biggest determiner when looking at these payouts is often times, publicity. If the settlements become viral or involve a widely used service, then the more people will submit a claim, and the less money each person will receive. Whereas on the other hand, if it’s super niche and not many people qualify, the payouts could be looking much, much juicer.
We are also seeing class actions settlements increase in size year over year, it seems like every year you hear about the “biggest settlement ever” from Juul or Facebook. So, the upside is that the $20 average will likely also be increasing in the years to come

There are lots of reasons for this, but the most likely explanation is that we are in the beginning stages of seeing big tech being held accountable.
In the early stages of development companies are solely focused on one thing: growth. With such a singular focus on growth, they will often overlook some of these other legal formalities. Most companies act like this and a lot of times it’s necessary in becoming successful, but the law is beginning to catch up with them. And they have big pockets.
The sad news is that most of the times there is a maximum payout, which is why you don’t see anyone being rewarded much above the $500 milestone in the chart above.
At any given time, there are hundreds of open settlements. Some of which could apply to you and some of which can’t, but the only thing between you and some of these paydays is awareness.

Playing The Victim

Call it what you want, but if this isn’t ~passive income~ then I don’t know what is. Enter your name, email, and phone number and voila a few months later you get a direct deposit.
So, my grand idea? Create a centralized database that has a list of open settlements where people can browse, see what applies to them, make a claim, and collect some money.
All this information is public, the Department of Justice publishes current lawsuits here, but there’s two opportunities that I see in the space that would make this idea valuable.

  • Outlining the Criteria: To qualify for a claim, you must meet some very specific criteria, and in order understand what that criterion is, you must read all the court documents. Nobody wants to do that, so you’re already adding value if you’re willing to.
  • Finding Leftovers: Because these documents are so hard to understand and there’s a cap to how much one individual can get, many settlements are never fully drained. Finding settlements with funds leftover and remarketing them could help people make more claims.
So with that said, how I could see this working is you monitor the DOJ site for any lawsuit updates, you create a website/newsletter/notification system for new settlements, and you take a cut of all settlement payouts.
Consider it an “I brought this to your attention” tax.
You could even build out some metrics around how many claims have been submitted, what the average payout is/would be, and whether any “proof of use” documentation is required. All of these would be beneficial in this space and are not currently provided.



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The Outlook

With average settlement values increasing and settlements becoming more common as tech enables businesses to be built faster, it seems kind of like a no brainer.

While it’s a niche industry, we’ve seen huge businesses built using models like this.

It’s similar to one of those sites that pays you to participate in a study or focus group, except this time, there is no time or participation component.
‘Til Friday.

from, matt

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