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Meta settles the Cambridge Analytica case for $725 million

When Meta was still called Facebook in 2018, the corporation was rocked by a scandal unlike any before or after. Meta was found to have shared user data with several unnamed third parties, one of which being the British political firm Cambridge Analytica, which has connections to Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign.

Meta agreed to pay $725 million to users who sued the site over the data breach on Friday, more than four years after the controversy first surfaced. This sum is in addition to the $5 billion settlement payment due to the FTC in 2020.

The protracted litigation began with a data privacy crisis that received widespread media attention. It was a wake-up call for individuals all around the globe who use the internet, as they recognised the need of protecting their personal data and the dangers of putting all their trust in third-party services. It also ushered in a period of increased government regulation and monitoring, with increased pressure on digital firms to disclose their internal workings and policies.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys claimed in a court filing that the amount paid by Meta to settle the case was the highest ever paid by a company to settle a private class action lawsuit involving data privacy issues in the United States. In the paper, attorneys wrote, “the scale of the award is especially surprising considering that Facebook contended that its users agreed to the activities at issue, and that the class experienced no real losses.” Reuters reported on the document.

The corporation has not acknowledged guilt in the settlement. In a statement, Meta’s manager of public relations communication, Dina El-Kassaby Luce, stated, “We sought a resolution since it’s in the best interest of our community and stockholders.” We’ve taken privacy seriously for the last three years and built a strong programme to protect user data.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs pointed out that since the controversy occurred, Meta has altered many of its IT rules in an effort to avoid a repeat. Of these updates, the one that had the most significant impact on third-party data collection through friends was the one that restricted data collection from users’ friends.

The attorneys filed the suit on behalf of the estimated 250 million to 280 million Facebook users in the United States who were harmed. It’s unclear how the impacted parties will be able to submit their claims and get their portion of the settlement money at this time. A court in San Francisco will have to sign off on the final sum, and there will be another hearing in March.