Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a privacy lawsuit alleging that the social media giant allowed Cambridge Analytica to obtain millions of users’ personal information. Any individual who has had a Facebook account in the United States between May 24, 2007, and December 2022, is now eligible to apply for a portion of the settlement.
The amount of compensation each person will receive is uncertain and will depend on the number of valid claims submitted. If more claims are filed, the payout for each user will be smaller since the settlement money must be divided among all eligible individuals. Users can submit their claims by completing an online form or by mailing a printed form.
The origins of the lawsuit date back to 2018 when it was discovered that Cambridge Analytica, a firm linked to Steve Bannon, a political strategist for Donald Trump, had paid an app developer for access to the personal data of approximately 87 million Facebook users. This data was then used to target American voters during the 2016 election that ultimately led to Trump’s victory as the 45th president. The public outcry over the scandal resulted in Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, appearing before US lawmakers, which sparked a movement for people to delete their Facebook accounts.
In 2021, Facebook changed its name to Meta and subsequently resolved the class-action lawsuit the following year. However, Meta did not acknowledge any wrongdoing, stating that they pursued the settlement for the benefit of their community and shareholders. A Meta spokesperson declined to provide any further comment on the matter.
While Facebook’s growth has been stagnant in recent years due to the increasing popularity of competing platforms such as TikTok, it still has over 2 billion users worldwide, including an estimated 250 million in the United States.