Facebook owner Meta has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming it improperly shared users’ information with Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based data analytics firm used to influence the 2016 Brexit referendum and Trump election campaign.
Lawyers for the class-action on behalf of more than 250 million users say the settlement – still to be approved by a judge – would be the largest ever achieved in a U.S. data privacy class action, and the most Meta has ever paid out in a lawsuit.
Meta – parent of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – admits no wrongdoing, says it revamped its privacy rules, and claims its users consented to the use of their data.
The tech giant has previously paid $5billion to resolve a U.S. Federal Trade Commission probe into Meta privacy practices, $100million to settle a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation over claims it misled investors about the misuse of user data, and a £500,000 fine to the UK’s data watchdog for failing to protect the personal information of its users.
The long-running lawsuit was prompted by the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the British political consulting firm harvested personal data of up to 87 million users – a story broken by company whistleblowers, reported in March 2018 in The Observer after an investigation by Carole Cadwalladr, shared with the UK’s Channel 4 television and the New York Times, and a further investigative follow-up in the Guardian’s Cambridge Analytica Files.
Meta agrees to settle
How Cambridge Analytica harvested user data
Reporter Carole Cadwalladr uncovers story
The Cambridge Analytica Files – the Guardian
The Cambridge Analytica story