Main menu

Pages

Facebook parent Meta agrees to pay $725 million to settle privacy lawsuit: NPR

featured image


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on April 4, 2013. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class-action privacy lawsuit.

Márcio Jose Sanchez/AP


hide caption

toggle subtitle

Márcio Jose Sanchez/AP


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on April 4, 2013. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class-action privacy lawsuit.

Márcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging it improperly shared user information with Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics company used by the Trump campaign.

The proposed settlement is a result of revelations in 2018 that information of up to 87 million people may have been improperly accessed by the third-party company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018. This is the largest recovery in a data privacy class action and the most Facebook has paid to settle a private class action, plaintiffs’ lawyers said in a court filing on Thursday.

Meta has not admitted irregularities and claims that its users have consented to the practices and have not suffered real harm. Meta spokeswoman Dina El-Kassaby Luce said in a statement that the deal was “in the best interests of its community and shareholders” and that the company had renewed its approach to privacy.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said that an estimated 250 million to 280 million people could be eligible for payments as part of the class-action settlement. The amount of individual payments will depend on the number of people who submit valid claims.

“The value of the recovery is particularly impressive given that Facebook has argued that its users consented to the practices in question and that the class suffered no actual harm,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said. said in the court case.

Facebook’s data leak to Cambridge Analytica has sparked global backlash and government investigations into the company’s privacy practices in recent years.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave high-profile testimony in 2020 before Congress and as part of the Federal Trade Commission’s privacy case, for which Facebook also agreed to a $5 billion fine. The tech giant has also agreed to pay $100 million to settle US Securities and Exchange Commission allegations that Facebook misled investors about the risks of misusing user data.

Facebook first learned of the leak in 2015, tracing the breach to a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge who collected data from Facebook users through an app to create a personality test and passed it on to Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica was in the business of creating psychological profiles of American voters so that campaigns could tailor their speeches to different people. The company was used by Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign, and later by former President Donald Trump’s campaign after he secured the Republican nomination.

According to a source close to Trump’s campaign data operations, Cambridge Analytica employees did not use psychological profiling for their campaign, but instead focused on more basic goals such as increasing online fundraising and reaching swing voters.

Whistleblower Christopher Wylie exposed the company 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 leaving the European Union. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was the vice president and US hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer owned a large part of the company at the time.

The court has scheduled a hearing for March 2, 2023, when a federal judge is expected to give final approval of the settlement.

Bobby Allyn of NPR contributed reporting.