Meta Platforms Inc. will pay $725 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed against the company over the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.
The settlement, which is subject to approval by a federal judge, was disclosed late Thursday in a court filing. It covers up to 280 million Meta users.
The class-action lawsuit was filed in 2018 following revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm tied to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, had accessed the personal data of Facebook users without their permission. The data collection was carried out using a Facebook app called “This is Your Digital Life”. When users gave the app permission to access their information, it also gained access to their friends’ information without their knowledge.
Cambridge Analytica accessed data about some 87 million Facebook users in breach of Meta’s terms of service. After the New York Times and The Observer brought the incident to light in early 2018, Facebook users launched a series of lawsuits against the social media giant. Those lawsuits were later consolidated into the class-action suit that Meta agreed to settle this week.
During the litigation, the scope of the lawsuit expanded beyond the Cambridge Analytics scandal. The class-action lawsuit also covered other instances where third parties gained access to Facebook users’ data without their knowledge or consent.” The plaintiffs charged that “Facebook failed to adequately monitor the third parties’ access to, and use of, that information.”
The $725 million settlement disclosed on Thursday is described as the largest-ever of its kind. As part of the proposed agreement, Meta did not admit wrongdoing.
“This historic settlement will provide meaningful relief to the class in this complex and novel privacy case,” stated Derek Loeser and Lesley Weaver, the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“We pursued a settlement as it’s in the best interest of our community and shareholders,” Meta said in a statement today. “Over the last three years we revamped our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy program. We look forward to continuing to build services people love and trust with privacy at the forefront.”
The development comes three years after Meta, then Facebook Inc., paid a $5 billion fine to settle charges brought by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over its privacy practices. The company also agreed to revamp its internal procedures for protecting user data. The same year, Meta paid a $100 million fine to settle separate charges that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had brought in connection with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.