The parent company of Facebook, Meta, has agreed to pay $725 million to resolve a class action lawsuit alleging that the social media behemoth provided user data to third parties without their consent.
According to Keller Rohrback L.L.P, the plaintiffs’ legal team, the settlement is the “largest recovery ever achieved in a data privacy class action and the most Facebook has ever paid to resolve a private class action.”
Following Facebook’s admission that 87 million users’ data had been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy linked to the 2016 presidential campaign of former President Donald Trump, a class action lawsuit was initiated.
The scope of the case was expanded to include Facebook’s entire data-sharing policies. According to the law firm behind the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that Facebook had “granted numerous third parties access to their Facebook content and information without their consent, and that Facebook failed to adequately monitor the third parties’ access to, and use of, that information.”
Judges in the Northern District of California who are in charge of the case must now approve the settlement.
“We pursued a settlement as it’s in the best interest of our community and shareholders. Over the last three years we revamped our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy program,” a Meta spokesperson told CNBC. The company did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
Global outrage over the Cambridge Analytica scandal led a wave of regulators to examine Facebook’s data practices.
Following the revelations, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation into Facebook due to suspicions that the social media company had disregarded the terms of an earlier agreement with the organization, which called for it to clearly notify users when their data was shared with outside parties.
In 2019, Facebook and the FTC reached a $5 billion settlement, a record. Around the same time, Facebook also agreed to pay $100 million to resolve claims that it misled investors about the risk of user data misuse in a case with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Since Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data to inform political campaigns, it was controversial when it was shut down in 2018 following the allegations.
In 2018, executives of Cambridge Analytica were caught on camera saying that the company would use sex workers, bribes, ex-spies, and fake news to help candidates win votes around the world. The footage was broadcast by Britain’s Channel 4 News.
Since the scandal, Facebook has changed its name to Meta in order to better reflect its expanding aspirations to become a dominant force in the metaverse, a term used to describe online virtual environments. Meta is in charge of Facebook, one of the biggest social media companies in the world.
But due to a slowdown in the ad market, modifications to Apple’s iOS privacy rules, and increased competition from other social media platforms, Facebook’s growth has slowed.
(Adapted from TheVerge.com)