The owner of Facebook, Meta, has come to an agreement to pay $725 million (or £600 million) to resolve a court lawsuit brought forth by a data breach related to the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
During the course of the protracted argument, the social media giant was accused of enabling other parties, notably the British company, access to the personal data of Facebook users.
According to the attorneys, the amount being sought is the most money ever sought in a data privacy class action in the United States.
Meta, which did not accept that it had done anything improper, said that during the last three years it has “revamped” its approach to privacy.
The corporation issued a statement in which it stated that the settlement was “in the best interest of our community and shareholders.”
He said that the amount was less than a tenth of what was spent on the company’s attempts to establish “the metaverse” in only the previous year.
Therefore, Meta probably won’t be too upset with this agreement, but it should serve as a lesson to other social media firms that making errors may prove to be quite expensive.
The proposed agreement to reach a settlement, which was made public in a document that was filed with the court late on Thursday night, is still awaiting approval from a federal judge in San Francisco.
In a statement, the main attorneys for the plaintiffs, Derek Loeser and Lesley Weaver, claimed that “this historic settlement will give real relief to the class in this complicated and unusual privacy issue.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a wide group of potential class members who are users of Facebook and whose personal data was improperly shared with third parties from the social network without their permission.
According to the judgement document, the number of persons who make up the class is “in the region of 250-280 million.” These individuals represent all of the people who used Facebook in the United States throughout the “class period,” which spans from 24 May 2007 to 22 December 2022.
There is no indication as to how the plaintiffs would go about claiming their portion of the settlement money.
If each person made a claim, according to Janis Wong, a researcher at The Alan Turing Institute who studies privacy and ethics, it would only amount to two or three dollars for that person.
On March 2, 2023, there will be another hearing about the settlement, which is scheduled to take place.
“Despite the fact that this $725 million settlement does not cover users in the United Kingdom, earlier this year a competition law expert filed a multi-billion dollar class action suit against Meta regarding the exploitation of users’ data. This suit does cover the time period during which Cambridge Analytica was active.
The Cambridge Analytica privacy issue, which came to light in 2018, revolved on the improper collection of sensitive information about Facebook users by applications developed and maintained by third parties.
For the goals of voter profiling and targeting, the now-defunct consulting business worked on Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign in 2016.
Facebook has reason to think that the data of up to 87 million users was inappropriately shared with the political consultancy.
The controversy spurred federal investigations into the privacy policies of Facebook, which ultimately led to lawsuits and a prominent congressional hearing in the United States in which Meta leader Mark Zuckerberg was questioned.
In 2019, Facebook reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over an investigation into the company’s privacy policies by agreeing to pay $5 billion.
The internet giant was also had to pay a fine of one hundred million dollars to resolve allegations made by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it had deceived investors on the improper use of user data.
Investigations are still going on at the state attorney general’s office, and the corporation is contesting a legal action taken by the attorney general for the district of Columbia.