Facebook, or Meta as it referred to know, has agreed to pay a sum of $90 million to settle a lawsuit that goes back a decade. The lawsuit had alleged that the social media platform was tracking the internet activity of users even after they had logged out. A preliminary settlement was filed on Monday at the US District Court in San Jose.
According to the agreement, Meta would have to delete data that it has collected improperly. The lawsuit had users accusing the platform of violating basic state and federal privacy laws. This was done using plug-ins to store cookies that went on track when they visited outside sites.
Facebook, which recently had profits of around $39.37 billion in 2021, would be forking out a sum of $90 million to those users. It is still not clear how the company will distribute to the claimants. Incidentally, this agreement was filed on Monday in a court in California. According to legal experts, if a judge approves this would finally retire a series of suits against the social media platform. Several media outlets have mentioned that courts had previously dismissed the case in 2017. However, the courts then revived it in April 2020.
Drew Pusateri, the spokesman from Meta/Facebook stated:
“Settling is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders and we’re glad to move past this issue.”
The plaintiff’s lawyers have planned to get legal fees of $26.1 million or around 29% of the settlement fund. This settlement does constitute one of the largest pay-outs in the history of the company. Most of the lawyers, in this case, have stated that the settlement is definitely one of the 10 largest data-privacy settlements.
Lawsuit Against Facebook Sees A Giant Settlement
Privacy advocates have caught Facebook and a bunch of other Internet giants in the country in their crosshairs. The case against Meta had been winding its way through a whole bunch of lower courts since 2012. Incidentally, the Supreme Court had refused to hear it the previous year.
Back then, privacy was the biggest issue. Currently, Meta has been dealing with misinformation, threats to democracy, and hate speech. Back in July 2019, Meta had planned to bolster privacy safeguards in a US Federal Trade Commission Settlement. It is noteworthy that the total valuation of the settlement is a $5 billion fine.
In a statement posted to his own Facebook account, Mark Zuckerberg stated:
“For the last three years, Nick has managed some of the most complex issues our company faces- including content policy, elections, the establishment of the Oversight Board and more. Nick will now lead our company on all our policy matters, including how we interact with governments as they consider adopting new policies and regulations, as well as how we make the case publicly for our products and our work.”
Read: Facebook Says It’s Your Fault That Hackers Got Half a Billion User Phone Numbers
Zuckerberg Hired Sir Nick Clegg To Protect The Company’s Interests
This refers to Sir Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister of Britain. Mark Zuckerberg has recently promoted Clegg to a new role that strictly focuses on regulation. In fact, this does put him at the same level of seniority as the founder of the firm.
Zuckerberg clarified that he had persuaded Sir Clegg to become the president of global affairs at the parent company of Facebook due to needs. The needs were basically the availability of someone with expertise who would represent the company’s policies throughout the globe. Nevertheless, Sir Nick would still have to report to Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.
The lawsuit against Facebook represented those people who had active accounts in the social media platform between early 2010 and late 2011. According to the lawsuit, the social media platform could track the moment someone loaded a page that was embedded with its content. Its ‘content’ includes objects such as the like button. It would then link it back to the profile of the user- according to most of the legal filings. But Meta hit back stating that the issue was already addressed- and wasn’t impacting users on the social media platform.
What’s New For Facebook?
Interestingly, just after those allegations surfaced in October, Sir Clegg had brought about new Facebook features. These new Facebook features had the purpose of safeguarding young users of the social media platform. Just the same month, the social media platform informed it had plans of hiring 10,000 workers from the EU over the next five years. This would be directly related to the creation of the multiverse.
The former deputy PM went on to argue for better regulation- and its necessity in the tech sector. He claimed that it wasn’t just the sole responsibility of private companies to decide what would constitute truth.
When the month began, Facebook had seen a sharp sell-off in its stocks, after Mark Zuckerberg lost around $30 billion in net worth. On the 3rd of February, the stocks of Meta went down by 26% after the company reported its first-ever decline in the number of active users. This led to a complete wipeout of $237 billion from its market capitalization. Needless to say, this was the biggest ever single-day loss for the company.
Keep Reading: How to check if you’re part of the Facebook data breach
- “Facebook to pay US$90-million in privacy lawsuit over user tracking.” The Globe and Mail. February 15, 2022.
- “Meta agrees to pay out $90million to settle lawsuit claiming it violated privacy by tracking users even AFTER they had logged off from Facebook.” Daily Mail. Chris Jewers. February 17, 2022.