Facebook Settles Privacy Lawsuit Over Cambridge Analytica Data Grab

Facebook has agreed to settle a long-running lawsuit over claims that the company violated users' privacy by sharing their information with outside developers, including the defunct political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, according to court papers filed Friday.

The settlement terms have not yet been disclosed, but are expected to be revealed by the end of October. 

If the deal is accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria, it will resolve a legal battle stemming from revelations that Cambridge Analytica -- a consultancy used by Senator Ted Cruz and former President Donald Trump -- harvested information from millions of Facebook users without their knowledge or explicit consent

Cambridge Analytica obtained the information from researcher Aleksandr Kogan, who amassed the data in 2014 through the personality-quiz app "thisisyourdigitallife," according to reports.

Only 270,000 Facebook users downloaded Kogan's app, but he reportedly gather data from up to 87 million of those downloaders' Facebook friends.



Shortly after reports about the data harvesting surfaced in 2018, users brought a class-action complaint against the company.

The claims initially centered on Cambridge Analytica, but were later expanded to include allegations that Facebook shared users' data with a broad array of outside developers, including the video provider Netflix.

The claims in the complaint include violations of California privacy law, the federal wiretap law and the federal video privacy law.

Early in the proceedings, Facebook, now named Meta Platforms, urged Chhabria to dismiss the lawsuit for several reasons. Among others, the company argued that people have no privacy interest in data once they share it with their social media friends.

Chhabria rejected that argument in 2019.

“Facebook’s argument could not be more wrong,” he wrote at the time. "Sharing information with your social media friends does not categorically eliminate your privacy interest in that information."

He added: “Social media users can have their privacy invaded if sensitive information meant only for a few dozen friends is shared more widely.”

Facebook separately agreed to a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which alleged that the company violated a 2012 order in numerous ways, including by allowing Cambridge Analytica and other outside developers access to users' data, collecting phone numbers for security purposes but then using them for advertising, and misleading people about the use of facial-recognition technology.

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