Facebook’s Meta agreed to pay $725M to settle the Cambridge Analytica scandal for accessing 87 million users’ data without their consent
Back in 2018, we wrote about the then-Facebook after the social media giant gave third parties, including British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, access to users’ personal data without their consent. At the time, Facebook revealed that up to 87 million of its users had their data improperly accessed. A class action lawsuit was later brought against the company for violating users’ privacy.
After four years of legal battle, Facebook’s parent company Meta finally agreed this week to pay $725 million to resolve the lawsuit. According to a court filing disclosed late on Thursday in the Northern District of California, the proposed settlement would resolve a long-running case prompted by revelations in 2018 that Facebook had allowed Cambridge Analytica to access the data of Facebook users.
The lawsuit was widened to focus on Facebook’s overall data-sharing practices. According to the law firm behind the lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that Facebook “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.” Meanwhile, judges overseeing will now have to 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.”
In his ruling, Judge Gandhi, the lead settlement mediator, concluded that: Based upon my experience as a former federal judge and class action litigator, my knowledge of the issues in dispute, my review of the substantial factual and legal materials presented before and during the mediation, the rigor of the Parties’ negotiations, the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Parties’ positions, and the benefits achieved by the Settlement, I believe the Settlement – a non-reversionary fund of $725 million – represents a reasoned and sound resolution of this exceptionally uncertain and notable litigation.”
It 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,” Keller Rohrback L.L.P, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, said in a court filing late Thursday announcing the settlement.
The $725 million fine is a drop in a bucket for the multi-billion dollar social giant. Just a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook also paid $5 billion to resolve a probe into its privacy practices brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The company also paid another$100 million to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims that it misled investors about the misuse of users’ data.
Facebook’s Meta is one of the most hated companies in the world. At the time of the scandal, Edward Snowden said this about the company:
“Facebook is a surveillance company collecting personal data, rebranded as ‘social media.”
Meanwhile, immediately after the incident, Facebook rolled out a new tool to check if your data was accessed by Cambridge Analytica.