Facebook agrees to pay $725 million to settle privacy lawsuit

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Meta, which owns Facebook, has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that accuses the social media giant of allowing third parties, including Cambridge Analytica, to access users’ personal information.

The proposed settlement, unveiled late on Thursday, resolves a lengthy lawsuit that began after revelations in 2018 that Facebook allowed British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to access data on up to 87 million users.

Prosecutors called the proposed settlement the largest ever reached in a data privacy class action in the United States and the most Meta has ever paid to settle a class action.

“This historic settlement will provide significant relief for the class in this complex and new privacy case,” lead attorneys for the prosecution, Derek Loeser and Lesley Weaver, said in a joint statement.

Meta has not admitted wrongdoing as part of the settlement, which is subject to approval by a federal judge in San Francisco. The company said in a statement that the deal was “in the best interests of our community and shareholders.”

“Over the past three years, we have renewed our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy program,” said Meta.

Cambridge Analytica, now defunct, worked for Donald Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign and gained access to the personal information of millions of Facebook accounts for voter definition and targeting purposes.

In 2019, Facebook reached $5 billion in settlements to settle a U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into its privacy practices and $100 million in relation to allegations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ) that it would have misled investors about the misuse of user data.

Thursday’s settlement involves claims by Facebook users that the company has violated several federal and state laws by allowing app developers and business partners to collect their personal data without their consent across the board.

Lawyers for the users alleged that Facebook tricked users into believing it could retain control over their personal data, when in fact it allowed thousands of outsiders access.

Facebook argued that its users have no legitimate interest in privacy about information they share with friends on social media. But U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria called that view “so wrong” and in 2019 allowed the case to go forward.

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