Facebook parent Meta pays $725m (£600m) to settle US class action lawsuit over sharing of personal data with Cambridge Analytica
Facebook parent Meta said it has agreed to pay $725 million (£600m) to settle a long-running class action lawsuit in the US that alleged the firm illegally shared users’ data with Cambridge Analytica.
Meta does not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement, which was disclosed in a court filing late on Thursday and is subject to the approval of a San Francisco judge.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers said the payout would be the largest ever in a data privacy class action and the most Facebook has ever paid to resolve a private class action.
The revelation in 2018 that now-defunct political consultancy Cambridge Analytica had gained access to the personal information of up to 87 million users kicked off numerous lawsuits and government probes.
The firm worked for Donald Trump’s successful 2016 presidential bid and used the information for voter profiling and targeting.
Cambridge Analytica obtained the information without users’ consent from a researcher who Facebook had permitted to deploy an app on its platform that harvested data from millions of users.
Among other things the incident led to a high-profile US congressional hearing where Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg faced harsh questioning by lawmakers.
Meta in August 2022 settled another major class-action lawsuit around the scandal for an undisclosed sum, shortly before Zuckerberg and then-chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg were due to face six hours of questioning under oath by plaintiffs’ lawyers.
A separate 2021 lawsuit claimed Facebook, now Meta, paid $4.9 billion (£4bn) more than necessary to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in a $5.1bn settlement over the Cambridge Analytica scandal in order to protect Zuckerberg from being named in the FTC’s complaint.
Facebook paid the FTC $5bn in that settlement, in addition to another $100m to the Securities and Exchange Commission to resolve claims it misled investors about the misuse of users’ data.
Last week a report found Zuckerberg had removed a reference to Cambridge Analytica from a speech he delivered six months before the consultancy’s activities came to broad attention, raising questions over whether Facebook/Meta had concealed information from investors, as is alleged in an ongoing shareholder lawsuit.