Facebook parent Meta to settle Cambridge Analytica case for $725 million

Dec 23 (Reuters) – Meta Platforms Inc, owner of Facebook (META.O) agreed to pay $725 million to resolve a class action lawsuit accusing the social media giant of allowing third parties, including Cambridge Analytica, to access users’ personal information.

The proposed settlement, which was disclosed in a filing in court late Thursday would resolve a long-running lawsuit sparked by revelations in 2018 that Facebook allowed British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to access the data of 87 million users.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys called the proposed settlement the largest ever in a U.S. data privacy class action and the most Meta has ever paid to resolve a class action lawsuit.

“This landmark settlement will provide significant relief to the class in this complex and novel privacy matter,” plaintiffs’ lead attorneys Derek Loeser and Lesley Weaver said in a joint statement.

Meta has not admitted any wrongdoing under the settlement, which is subject to the approval of a federal judge in San Francisco. The company said in a statement that the settlement is “in the best interest of our community and our shareholders.”

“Over the past three years, we have revamped our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy program,” Meta said.

Cambridge Analytica, now defunct, worked for Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign in 2016 and accessed personal information from millions of Facebook accounts for voter profiling and targeting.

Cambridge Analytica obtained this information without users’ consent from a researcher who had been granted permission by Facebook to deploy an app on its social media network that harvested data from millions of its users.

The ensuing Cambridge Analytica scandal fueled government investigations into its privacy practices, lawsuits, and a high-profile US Congressional hearing in which Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was questioned by officials. legislators.

In 2019, Facebook agreed to pay $5 billion to resolve a Federal Trade Commission investigation into its privacy practices and $100 million to settle allegations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it misled misleading investors about the misuse of user data.

Investigations by state attorneys general are ongoing and the company is fighting a lawsuit filed by the Washington, D.C. attorney general

Thursday’s settlement resolved claims by Facebook users that the company violated various federal and state laws by allowing app developers and business partners to harvest their personal data without their consent on a widespread basis.

Lawyers for the users alleged that Facebook misled them into believing they could retain control of personal data, when in fact it allowed thousands of privileged strangers access to it.

Facebook argued that its users had no legitimate interest in protecting the information they shared with friends on social media. But US District Judge Vince Chhabria called that view “so wrong” and in 2019 largely allowed the case to move forward.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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