Facebook’s parent company Meta has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a years-long class action lawsuit triggered by disclosures in 2018 that the company shared user data with consulting firm Cambridge Analytica that was used for political advertising.
The settlement (which can be read in full here, via Reuters) does not include an 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 states that the $725 million fee is the largest ever in a data privacy class action case, as well as the most Facebook has ever paid to resolve a class action lawsuit.
The lawsuit was originally prompted by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which it was revealed that Facebook shared data on some 87 million users (collected via a personality quiz app, “This Is Your Digital Life”) with the consulting firm in question. The scandal gained considerable attention not only because of what it revealed about Facebook’s lax approach to user privacy, but because of Cambridge Analytica’s involvement with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The class-action lawsuit was later expanded to cover other instances of Facebook sharing 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, in a press statement.
In response to the news, a spokesperson for Meta told CNBC: “We pursued a settlement as it’s in the best interest of our community and shareholders. Over the last three years we revamped 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 access to the same data about users.