Crunchyroll Hime on a banner.

What’s the Deal With That Crunchyroll Facebook Lawsuit?

You might be able to get some money.

Did you happen to get an email about a lawsuit involving Crunchyroll and user privacy? You’re not alone. There’s a settlement in a $16 million class action lawsuit involving Crunchyroll, and if you’re a long-time user of the U.S. anime streaming platform, you might just have a chance to join in on the case.

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Want to collect your money? Here’s everything you need to know about the lawsuit, and whether you can get in on the settlement yourself.

What’s this whole Kroll class action settlement with Crunchyroll?

In September 2022, Crunchyroll parent company Sony Group Corporation was sued by Lisa Cuevas, an Illinois Crunchyroll and Facebook user who viewed Crunchyroll while also being logged into her Facebook account. The case concerned “personally identifiable information” being shared with third-parties like Facebook, meaning Cuevas’ identity—and her Crunchyroll viewing behavior and viewing history—was disclosed to Meta.

“Plaintiff never gave Defendant express written consent to disclose her Personal Viewing Information,” the original Cuevas v. Sony Group Corporation, d/b/a Crunchyroll complaint claimed.

Cuevas’ lawsuit hinged on the Video Privacy Protection Act. According to the lawsuit, Crunchyroll had supposedly violated federal law by not stating in its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy that it “will share digital subscribers’ private and protected Personal Viewing Information with third parties, including Facebook.”

“When a Crunchyroll digital subscriber enters the website and watches Video Media on the website, the website sends to Facebook certain information about the viewer, including, but not limited to, their identity and the media content the digital subscriber watched,” the original complaint said. “Specifically, Crunchyroll sends to Facebook the video content name, its URL, and, most notably, the viewers’ Facebook.”

Crunchyroll Hime, hanging out
(Crunchyroll)

The complaint saw three amended complaints, including one as recent as August 2023. By the second, two plaintiffs replaced Cuevas and alleged similar experiences while using Crunchyroll. In the final amended complaint for Beltran et al. v. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. d/b/a Crunchyroll, the lawsuit stressed that Crunchyroll did not divulge that it would also share the plaintiffs’ Personal Viewing Information with Google and Adobe, among other third parties.

Crunchyroll “monetized its database by disclosing its digital subscribers’ Personal Viewing Information to third parties in a manner allowing it to make a direct connection—without the consent of its digital subscribers and to the detriment of their legally protected privacy rights,” the final complaint alleged. “Critically, the Personal Viewing Information Defendant discloses to unauthorized third parties allows those third parties to build from scratch or cross-reference and add to the data it already has in their own detailed profiles for its own users, adding to its trove of personally identifiable data.”

Under the VPPA, any “video tape service provider” must have “informed, written consent” from users before giving a third-party service access to “personally-identifying information,” the lawsuit said.

So, how do I get my settlement money from Crunchyroll?

Written consent? Video tape service providers? Adobe? Don’t worry if you’re confused. On Sept. 14, 2023, Crunchyroll reached a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs. Mediation began on April 19, 2023, and while Crunchyroll “denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing whatsoever,” the company and the plaintiffs both decided to avoid the litigation process by having Crunchyroll pay affected users.

In the agreement, Crunchyroll agreed to a $16 million settlement fund, and confirmed it would engage in “good faith efforts” to prevent further tracking technologies from being used to identify users to third parties without consent.

Now, here’s where Kroll comes in.

Kroll offers settlement administration via an official website for the settlement. In short, you can use Kroll’s platform to file your claim and get your cash.

According to a settlement notice provided on Kroll’s website, a settlement claim is open to any U.S. user who, from Sept. 8, 2020 to Sept. 20, 2023 “was a registered user of an online website, mobile app, or any video-on-demand service or app owned, controlled, and/or operated by Crunchyroll” and viewed a video operated by Crunchyroll.

“Persons included in the Settlement will be eligible to receive a pro rata (meaning equal) portion of the Settlement Fund, which Class Counsel anticipates to be approximately $30.00, but the exact amount is not yet known and could be more or less,” the notice said.

Crunchyroll Hime, with the Crunchyroll logo.
(Crunchyroll)

If you want your (approximately) $30, you’ll have to submit a claim by Dec. 12, 2023. You can do this by either filling out a claim form by hand, or by accessing the Kroll website with your Class Member ID and submitting your claim. Click on the “Submit Claim” button to file. Keep in mind that the settlement case needs to go through a final approval hearing on Dec. 19, 2023 before you can receive your payment.

In the meantime, you can catch up on the court case under the “Documents” section — although we don’t recommend reading through all the legalese unless you have some prior legal experience.

Ironically, you can use your settlement to pay for your Crunchyroll subscription, as you can collect your payment via PayPal. Otherwise, you can also get your payout via Venmo or a check.

I’m an affected Crunchyroll user! How do I make a claim if the settlement team didn’t reach out to me?

Crunchyroll is paying out its settlement to an enormous class of eligible users. As mentioned above, you’re part of the affected class if you’re a U.S. Crunchyroll user with a registered account who accessed the site during a three-year window from September 2020 to September 2023.

That means this is one enormous settlement, and some Crunchyroll users who are eligible for a settlement payout might not even know that they can file a claim.

Haven’t received an email yet? Don’t give up. As one Redditor suggested, there are two ways to join in on the class action case and receive your cut of the $16 million settlement. First, check the spam folder for the email account connected to your Crunchyroll username. The settlement notice might have went to the wrong part of your inbox, and you might just need to dig around for it and follow the instructions.

Crunchyroll settlement information and dates, per Kroll.
(Settlement deadlines, via the Kroll Settlement Administration)

What if you don’t have access to that email address, or you can’t remember how you originally signed up for Crunchyroll? That Reddit user also suggested reaching out to the Kroll Settlement Administration via its online contact form. In particular, you should explicitly state that you are a Crunchyroll subscriber, and ask “if there are any further ways by which you can evidence that you were affected by this.”

“I think it would also be best to directly ask them if they could provide a means to help streamline this,” that Redditor said, “by seeing if they can send out Member ID’s for those who are able to prove directly that they do have a Crunchyroll subscription, are in the U.S., and have used the service between September 2020 and September 2023.”

So go ahead, reach out. You may just help your fellow anime fans.

(Feature image: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)


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Author
Ana Valens
Ana Valens (she/her) is a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship, and sex workers' rights. Her book "Tumblr Porn" details the rise and fall of Tumblr's LGBTQ-friendly 18+ world, and has been hailed by Autostraddle as "a special little love letter" to queer Tumblr's early history. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her ever-growing tarot collection.