Facebook parent company Meta has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging that the social media giant gave third parties access to user data without their consent.
The settlement is the “largest recovery ever achieved in a data privacy class action and the most Facebook has ever paid to resolve a private class action,” according to Keller Rohrback L.L.P, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, in a court filing late Thursday announcing the settlement.
The class action lawsuit was filed in 2018 after Facebook revealed that the information of 87 million users had been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy firm linked to former President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
The case was expanded to include Facebook’s overall data-sharing practises. Plaintiffs claimed that Facebook “granted numerous third parties access to their Facebook content and information without their consent, and that Facebook failed to adequately monitor the third parties’ access to, and use of, that information,” according to the law firm behind the lawsuit.
Judges in the Northern District of California will now have to approve the settlement.
“We pursued a settlement because it is in the best interests of our community and shareholders. “Over the last three years, we revamped our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy programme,” a Meta spokesperson told CNBC. As part of the settlement, the company did not admit any wrongdoing.
A scandal that sparked international outrage
The Cambridge Analytica scandal sparked global outrage and a rush of regulators around the world to investigate Facebook’s data practises.
Following the revelations, the US Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into Facebook over concerns that the social media company had violated the terms of a previous agreement with the agency, which required it to provide users with clear notifications when their data was being shared with third parties.
In 2019, Facebook agreed to a record $5 billion settlement with the FTC. Facebook also agreed to pay $100 million to settle a case with the US Securities and Exchange Commission around the same time over allegations that the company made misleading disclosures about the risk of misuse of user data.