Meta has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a longstanding class action lawsuit over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The $725 million settlement is the largest amount Meta has agreed to pay to settle a private class action lawsuit and is also the largest monetary return to date in a data privacy class action lawsuit. However, Meta said it did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
The case dates back to 2014, when Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy firm, used a third-party company to gather personal data on Facebook users under the guise of personality tests.
The data collected by the company was intended to be used for profiling and targeting Facebook users in the United States to help Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The incident was uncovered in 2018 by an investigation by The Guardian and The New York Times, which revealed that personal data had been collected from approximately 50 million Facebook users (later found to be 87 million). The revelation prompted multiple lawsuits and a #deletefacebook campaign.
Facebook users whose data were collected became the subject of a class action lawsuit. Facebook previously paid $5 billion to settle an FTC lawsuit against the company and $100 million to settle a US Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit for misleading Facebook investors about its data use.
Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy in 2018 after intense media and regulatory pressure and scrutiny. Meta has settled the lawsuit, but the company and its are facing several other lawsuits on the topic, and the matter is far from over.