This week, The Guardian revealed that Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has finalized a class-action lawsuit filed by Facebook users alleging that the company illegally shared their personal data with Cambridge Analytica.
The seriousness of this action was revealed when the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) fined Facebook $5 billion. A lawsuit filed last year claims Facebook paid an additional $4.9 billion in excess of what was required to the FTC, ensuring that its co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was not named in the FTC’s complaints.
In 2018, the world found that 87 million Facebook users had their personal data used without permission. The data was supposed to be used by Russian-American researcher Aleksandr Kogan, but ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, a company co-founded by adviser to former President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.
Trump’s 2016 political campaign used data obtained by Facebook to find areas of the US that were responding to high turnover of television commercials.
The latest lawsuit finalized by Meta is not a criminal one, but a civil class action and the terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Furthermore, no other details about the process were revealed, although the plaintiffs could be Facebook users whose personal data was sent to Cambridge Analytica.
Cambridge filed for bankruptcy two months after news about how the company acquired the personal data of Facebook users was published.
While the amount Meta agreed to pay to settle the case was not disclosed, legal advisers say the company would have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars if it lost the case in court. The petition filed by both sides in the lawsuit asks the judge presiding over the case in San Francisco federal court to put the case on hold for 60 days so that Meta’s lawyers can produce a document outlining the terms of the settlement.
Unfortunately, the case ended up being resolved with the payment of a fine and everything continues as usual.