Meta agrees to pay $725m to settle Cambridge Analytica scandal case

23 Dec 2022

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Meta has not admitted any wrongdoing as part of the proposed settlement.

Facebook owner Meta has agreed to pay $725m to resolve a lawsuit accusing it of illegally sharing user data with third parties, including Cambridge Analytica.

The settlement in the long-running lawsuit is the largest to be achieved in a US data privacy class action case, lawyers for the plaintiffs said, and is the most Meta has ever paid to resolve a lawsuit.

The net settlement fund will be used to compensate the plaintiffs for the “harms they suffered as a result of Facebook’s alleged wrongdoing”, according to court documents.

Meta did not admit wrongdoing in the case and said in a statement that the settlement was “in the best interest of our community and shareholders”.

UK consulting firm Cambridge Analytica came under fire in 2018 for allegedly using data obtained from Facebook profiles to influence political events and closed operations.

The organisation specialised in what it called ‘behavioural microtargeting’. This involved using data-mining techniques to create market clusters and was employed in election campaigns to target specific groups.

It emerged more than four years ago that data from up to 87m Facebook users was harvested and used for targeted political campaigning in the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit referendum in the UK.

Details came from Cambridge Analytica whistleblowers Christopher Wylie and Brittany Kaiser, who contributed to The Guardian’s Cambridge Analytica Files investigation, providing documents and information for a momentous series on Brexit, the Trump campaign, Facebook and more.

The revelations impacted Facebook significantly and led to discussions about how digital platforms can be used and abused.

As a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Meta was given a $5bn fine in 2019 by the US Federal Trade Commission for the mishandling of user data.

The company also agreed to pay a fine of £500,000 following an investigation by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic