Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Facebook’s owner Meta has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused the social media company of sharing its users’ personal data with third parties without their consent, Reuters reports(
The lawsuit, which dates back to 2018, came after it was revealed Facebook had shared the personal data of up to 87 million users with the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. This information was reportedly used by the now-defunct British company for the purposes of voter profiling and targeting. The data was harvested through an innocent-looking personality quiz app called “This Is Your Digital Life,” which Facebook allowed the firm to run on its platform.
In 2018, a former researcher at Cambridge Analytica, Christopher Wylie, blew the whistle on the company’s actions, stating that the firm, which had worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, had allowed Trump's campaign team to gain significant insight(Opens in a new window) into voters’ habits ahead of the election.
Initially covering only the Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal, the lawsuit was later expanded to include other times Facebook had shared personal data with third parties, The Verge reports(Opens in a new window).
A white man with pink hair wearing a suit and tie, standing up and holding one hand up in oath as he testifies at a US Senate hearing.
Meta did not admit wrongdoing as part of the multi-million dollar settlement, which lawyers for the plaintiffs called the largest to ever be achieved in a US data privacy class action, Reuters reports. The $725 million settlement is also the largest Facebook has ever paid to resolve a class-action lawsuit, law firm Keller Rohrback L.L.P said Thursday.
The settlement still has to be approved by judges in the Northern District of California, CNBC reports.
In a press statement(Opens in a new window) released Thursday night, the lead lawyers representing the plaintiffs, Derek Loeser and Lesley Weaver said: "This historic settlement will provide meaningful relief to the class in this complex and novel privacy case.”
Dina Luce, a spokesperson for Meta said: “ “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. We look forward to continuing to build services people love and trust with privacy at the forefront.”
According to the settlement, Meta no longer permits third parties access to the same personal data it had earlier shared.
In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine for misleading Americans about how much control they have over their personal information on the social media site.
And earlier this month, a $2 billion lawsuit filed against Meta in Kenya accused Facebook of inflaming the Ethiopian civil war by allowing the spread of violent and hateful posts via its algorithm.
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