Attorneys for the class have since said that this is the most money Facebook and its parent company, Meta, have ever agreed to pay to settle a privacy-related lawsuit.
Facebook parent company Meta has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging that the social media company provided third-party services access to sensitive consumer information.
In a statement announcing the settlement, law firm Keller Rohrback L.L.P. said that the multi-million-dollar award constitutes “the largest recovery ever achieved in a data privacy class action and the most Facebook has ever paid to resolve a private class action.”
“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,” attorneys said. “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.”
“This historic settlement will provide meaningful relief to the class in this complex and novel privacy case,” attorneys Derek Loeser and Lesley Weaver said in a joint statement.
According to CNBC, the class action was launched in 2018, shortly after Facebook disclosed that it allowed Cambridge Analytica to acquire information about 87 million individual accounts.
CNBC reports that Cambridge Analytica, a United Kingdom-based political consulting firm, purportedly had links with former President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
In their claim, attorneys for the class focused on Facebook’s overall data-sharing practices and policies, arguing that Facebook “granted numerous third parties access to [consumers’] Facebook content and information without their consent.”
The lawsuit further that Facebook “failed to adequately monitor third parties’ access to, and use of, that information.”
However, the settlement must still be approved by the court.
In a separate statement, a Meta spokesperson said that it agreed to settle the class action for practical reasons.
“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 program,” a Meta spokesperson told CNBC.
Facebook and Meta continue to deny wrongdoing.
TechCrunch notes that only U.S. Facebook users will be entitled to receive compensation from the settlement, if the settlement is approved.
Most eligible users will receive only several dollars at most.
Despite Facebook’s apparent willingness to resolve the complaint, TechCrunch reports that the social media company’s erstwhile relationship with Cambridge Analytica remains a source of controversy.
Alongside continued government investigations, Washington, D.C., has also filed a lawsuit against Meta C.E.O. and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who the capital city claims is personally responsible for the Cambridge Analytica breaches.