Meta has agreed to pay $725 million to resolve a lawsuit which accused the tech giant of allowing Cambridge Analytica to access users' personal information.
The settlement, detailed in a court filing on Thursday, will be the largest ever monetary penalty for a US data privacy class action suit and the largest sum Meta has paid to resolve a lawsuit.
"This historic settlement will provide meaningful relief to the class in this complex and novel privacy case," the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs, Derek Loeser and Lesley Weaver, said in a joint statement to Reuters.
Meta will not admit wrongdoing for its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal as part of the settlement, documents reveal.
The tech giant said in a statement on Thursday that settling the case was in the “best interest of our community and shareholders” and confirmed that it has introduced new organisational processes to avoid similar incidents occurring again.
“Over the last three years we have revamped our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy programme,” a spokesperson said.
This settlement brings to a close a long-running lawsuit against the social media platform in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The UK-based firm was found to have gained access to personal information belonging to millions of Facebook accounts in 2016, which it used to profile and target voters ahead of the 2016 US presidential election and Brexit referendum.
Cambridge Analytica was found to have harvested data on up to 87 million users without consent after Facebook allowed it to deploy an app on the social media platform.
In the wake of the discovery, the social media firm came under intense scrutiny from lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic, and in 2019 agreed to pay a $5 billion fine to settle an FTC probe into its data practices.
Meta was also fined $100 million by the US Security and Exchange Commission amid claims that it misled shareholders over the misuse of user data during that period.
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The record settlement also follows a number of recent fines issued by EU-based regulators over the company’s handling of user data.
In November, Ireland’s data Protection Commission (DPC) announced plans to impose a €265 million fine following an investigation into a data breach which saw the personal details of more than 500 million users published online.
The inquiry into the data scraping breach ruled that Meta had infringed two articles of EU data protection laws.
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Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.
He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.