Fallout from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal continues over four years after it was first exposed. Parent company Meta has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a long-running class-action lawsuit accusing Facebook of allowing Cambridge Analytica and other third parties to access user’s private information, Reuters has reported.
The settlement resolves user claims that Facebook violated federal and state laws by allowing the company’s preferred vendors and partners to harvest their personal data without consent. It’s reportedly the largest ever in a US data privacy class action and the most Meta has ever paid to resolve a class-action lawsuit.
“This historic settlement will provide meaningful relief to the class in this complex and novel privacy case,” the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs said in a statement.
Meta admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement, which is still subject to approval by a federal judge. “Over the last three years we revamped our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy program,” Meta said in a statement, adding that the settlement “was in the best interest of our community and shareholders.”
Cambridge Analytica, now defunct, worked for Ted Cruz and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaigns. It accessed the personal data of up to 87 million people by an app (thisisyourdigitallife) and used the information gathered to target individuals with personally tailored messages. The scandal was exposed by The New York Times and The Guardian in 2018, thanks in large part to whistleblower Christopher Wylie.
In 2019, Facebook agreed to pay a $5 billion fine following a Federal Trade Commission investigation and $100 million to settle US Securities and Exchange Commission claims. It also paid £500,000 (about $644,000) in fines to the UK, a pittance compared to what it would have paid had the GDPR been in place when the scandal occurred.
Facebook hasn’t put Cambridge Analytica behind it yet, either. The company is still fighting a lawsuit by the Washington DC attorney general, as well as a number of state attorneys general.
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