Meta Platforms has agreed to pay $725 million to settle class-action claims that it violated users' privacy by sharing their information with outside developers, including the defunct political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, according to court papers filed late Thursday.
The deal provides for people who held Facebook accounts between May 24, 2007 and and December 22, 2022 to seek monetary damages from the settlement fund. The class size is estimated to range between 250 million and 280 million people.
If accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria, the settlement will resolve a legal battle stemming from revelations that the defunct right-wing political consultancy -- which was used by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) 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 gathered 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 collected data from up to 87 million of those people's Facebook friends.
Facebook users sued the company in 2018, soon after reports about Cambridge Analytica first surfaced. While the claims initially centered on Cambridge Analytica, they were later expanded to include allegations that Facebook shared users' data with a broad array of outside developers, including the video provider Netflix.
The users claimed Facebook, now named Meta Platforms, violated California privacy law, the federal wiretap law and the federal video privacy law.
Meta and counsel for the plaintiffs said they reached a deal in August, but terms were not disclosed at the time.
A Meta spokesperson said Friday, “We pursued a settlement as it’s in the best interest of our community and shareholders.”
The spokesperson added, “Over the last three years we revamped our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy program.”
Earlier in the litigation, Meta argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed on the grounds that users have no privacy claim on the information they share with contacts on social media.
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."
In 2019, the company agreed to a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which alleged that Meta violated a 2012 order by allowing Cambridge Analytica and other outside developers access to users' data.
Wendy: Thanks for staying on this scandal and continuing privacy abuses by these various tech platforms. Surely $750 Billion would be a more appropriate class action settlement for this company identified as "Data Pirates" and "digital gangsters" in a report by a UK Parliamentary Select Commitee, February 2019? https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/digital-culture-media-and-sport-committee/news/fake-news-report-published-17-19/
As noted in the report: “social media companies cannot hide behind the claim of being merely a ‘platform’ and maintain that they have no responsibility themselves in regulating the content of their sites”.
Thanks Wendy, and I agree with Tony.
Put another way, the amount agreed upon was $725m which in relation to their 2.934b users during 2022-to-date equates to just under 25 cents per user. Magnanimity writ small.
John appeciate the nod. Apparently the class action size is estimated at 250 to 280 million so closer to $3 per user for this abuse. However, still ridiculously "small" as was the $5 billion sttlement agreed with the FTC!