Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a year-long class action lawsuit initiated in 2018 after the company shared user data with consultancy Cambridge Analytica that was used for political advertising.
The Settlement (which can be read in full here, through Reuters) contains no admission of wrongdoing on Meta’s part, and will still have to be approved by federal judges in the Northern District of California, reports CNBC. The settlement document says the $725 million fee is the largest ever in a class action data privacy lawsuit, as well as the highest amount Facebook has ever paid to resolve a class action lawsuit.
The lawsuit was originally prompted by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which revealed that Facebook shared data on some 87 million users (collected through a personality quiz app, “This Is Your Digital Life”) with the consulting firm in question. The scandal received a lot of attention not only for what it revealed about Facebook’s lax approach to user privacy, but also for Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The class action lawsuit was later expanded to other cases where Facebook shared user data with third parties without proper consent.
“This historic settlement will provide meaningful relief to the class in this complex and novel privacy case,” said Derek Loeser and Lesley Weaver of Keller Rohrback LLP, the law firm representing the plaintiffs. press statement.
Following the news, a spokesperson for Meta told CNBC: “We have pursued a settlement because it is in the best interest of our community and shareholders. Over the past three years, we have refreshed our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy program.”
The settlement says Meta has “meaningfully changed” its data-sharing practices since the 2018 scandal and no longer allows third parties to access the same data about users.