NEWS4 January 2023

Meta to settle $750m data privacy lawsuit

Legal News North America Privacy Technology

US – Social media giant, and parent company of Facebook, Meta has decided to settle a $750m lawsuit related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Meta logo

The case, which was heard in the district court of the northern district of California, was brought by Facebook users following news stories in 2018 that Meta, then known as Facebook, had allowed Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting company based in the UK, to access as many as 87 million users’ data.

The case then expanded to target broader data-sharing practices by Facebook, claiming the company granted numerous third parties access to their Facebook content and information without their consent.

Lawyers for the users had also argued that Facebook failed to adequately monitor the third parties’ access to, and use of, that information. 

The parties notified the court of a settlement in principle in August, and after additional negotiations filed the details of the settlement last month. The court will review and decide if the settlement should be preliminarily approved. 

The proposed settlement of $725m is the largest ever achieved in a data privacy class action in the US and the most Facebook has ever paid to resolve a private class action.

Meta has since changed practices raised by the case, including ceasing to allow third parties to access data about users through their friends, enhancing its ability to restrict and monitor how third parties acquire and use Facebook users’ information, and developing tools to tell users what information Facebook collects and shares about them.  

Cambridge Analytica is now defunct, having filed for bankruptcy in 2018.

A statement from Meta said: “We pursued a settlement as it’s in the best interest of our community and shareholders.

“Over the last three years we revamped our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy programme.

“We look forward to continuing to build services people love and trust with privacy at the forefront.”

Derek Loeser of Keller Rohrback LLP and Lesley Weaver of Bleichmar Fonti & Auld LLP, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement: “This historic settlement will provide meaningful relief to the class in this complex and novel privacy case.

“We have reached this point only because our teams of lawyers and professionals have dedicated years of hard work to this case. We are also immensely thankful to the court and the mediators.”