Published on: December 28, 2022
Meta has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused Facebook’s parent company of allowing Cambridge Analytica to use private user information. Cambridge Analytica is a data analytics company that the Trump campaign hired in 2016.
This is the end of a four-year court battle that started when it was discovered that the private data of nearly 87 million Facebook users was accessed by Cambridge Analytica, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018.
According to reports, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said there are up to 280 million people who may be eligible for payments as part of the class action settlement. The amount will depend on the number of people who come forward with valid claims.
“The amount of the recovery is particularly striking given that Facebook argued that its users consented to the practices at issue and that the class suffered no actual damages,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said.
The settlement still must be approved by a judge. The settlement case will be heard in March.
“We pursued a settlement as it’s the best interest of our community and shareholders,” Meta said in a press release. “Over the last three years we revamped our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy program. We look forward to continuing to build services people love and trust with privacy at the forefront.”
Facebook’s decision to share data with Cambridge Analytica caused international fallout and opened investigations into Facebook’s privacy terms. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress and in a Federal Trade Commission case.
Multiple news outlets reported that a source close to the Trump campaign’s data operations said that Cambridge Analytica staffers used the data on boosting digital fundraising and communicating with voters who didn’t have a preferred candidate choice.
NPR said that whistleblower Christopher Wylie then exposed the firm for its role in Brexit in 2019. He said Cambridge Analytica used Facebook user data to target people susceptible to conspiracy theories and convince British voters to support exiting the European Union.