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Meta agrees to settle Cambridge Analytica class-action lawsuit for $725 million

Back in 2018, Facebook (now Meta) found itself in hot water when it was revealed that third-parties, most notably UK political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had been harvesting the private user data of millions of people through Facebook without their consent. This led to highly publicized investigations from regulators and heavy fines from the U.S. and the UK, among others. Now, the company has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit.

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As spotted by Reuters, Meta has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a long-running class-action lawsuit concerning the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The 73-page document describes the struggles of the plaintiffs in this case along with the broader impact this favorable outcome has in the tech industry as a whole. The $725 million settlement is the most that Meta has ever agreed to pay to resolve a private class-action lawsuit and is also the largest financial restitution in a data privacy class-action to date. However, Meta has not admitted to any wrongdoing as a part of the settlement.

The lawyers for the plaintiffs have noted that:

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. Plaintiffs dispute these characterizations, but acknowledge that they faced tremendous risks in this novel and complex case. In addition to the monetary relief obtained by Plaintiffs, Facebook has meaningfully changed the practices that gave rise to Plaintiffs’ allegations, as set forth in the declarations of two Facebook employees with knowledge of those facts.

Significantly, since this case started, Facebook has ceased allowing third parties to access data about users through their friends, has meaningfully enhanced its ability to restrict and monitor how third parties acquire and use Facebook users’ information, and developed more robust tools to tell users what information Facebook collects and shares about them.

It is important to note that Cambridge Analytica went bankrupt in 2018 following intense media and regulatory pressure and scrutiny. Although Meta has resolved this lawsuit, the matter has not been put to bed yet as the company and its personnel (including CEO Mark Zuckerberg) are still facing other lawsuits on this topic, filed by various U.S. state attorney-generals.

Source: Settlement document via Reuters

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