Meta Platforms, Facebook’s parent company, has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging the social media giant enabled third parties, notably Cambridge Analytica, to obtain users’ data.
The settlement agreement, revealed in a court filing late Thursday, would end a long-running legal battle sparked by allegations in 2018 that Facebook had granted the British political consulting company Cambridge Analytica access to the data of up to 87 million users.
According to plaintiffs’ lawyers, the proposed payout is the highest ever reached in a U.S. data privacy class action and the largest amount Meta has ever paid to settle a class action case.
Meta did not acknowledge its wrongdoing
The lead lawyers for the plaintiffs, Derek Loeser and Lesley Weaver, said in a joint statement that this “historic settlement will provide meaningful relief” to those involved in the complex and groundbreaking privacy case.
As part of the deal, Meta did not acknowledge guilt, pending approval by a federal judge in San Francisco. In a statement, the firm stated that the settlement was in its community’s and investors’ best interests.
Cambridge Analytica, which is now shut down, played a key role in Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign in 2016, gaining access to personal data from millions of Facebook users for voter profiling and targeting.
Facebook’s woes continue
Cambridge Analytica received the information without the users’ knowledge from a researcher who had been granted permission by Facebook to launch an app on its social media platform that captured data from millions of its users.
In 2019, Facebook accepted a settlement of $5 billion as part of a Federal Trade Commission investigation into its privacy practices and $100 million to satisfy SEC charges that it deceived investors about the abuse of users’ data.
State attorneys general are currently conducting investigations, and the corporation is contesting a lawsuit filed by the attorney general of Washington, D.C.