Meta to pay $90 million over Facebook’s privacy violations from a decade ago

The last appeal by Meta was exhausted

Another Facebook data violation scandal has reached its end

Meta, the parent company of the social media giant Facebook, has finally settled for a payout over privacy violations from a decade ago.

The $90 million settlement has been reached after Meta lost the last appeal that was filed to the 9th Circuit Court back in 2020, ultimately resulting in US Supreme Court declining to hear the case. This was not the first appeal made by both sides, which resulted in it dragging out since it was filed back in 2012.

The legal action was prompted by Facebook's actions conducted over a two-year period since 2010. The proprietary browser plug-in, as well as cookies, were used to track users even if they were logged out of the social media at the time.

According to the company's own end-user licensing agreement, tracking was not meant to continue as soon as users leave Facebook, which was not the case. 9th Circuit Court has ruled that unlawful monetization of the illegally gathered user data creates economic harm in the grand scheme of things.

One of the largest payouts for violating user privacy

Under the terms of the settlement, Meta has to delete all the data gathered from users during the time it was unlawfully collected. Once finalized, the settlement would be one of the largest ones administered by the US Court, falling in the top ten penalties paid for user data violations.

Meta's spokesperson said that the settlement is ultimately a good thing and that the company is overall happy it could finally leave it all behind:[1]

Reaching a settlement in this case, which is more than a decade old, is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders and we’re glad to move past this issue

David Straite, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said that they are grateful to the 9th Circuit for its ruling, as well as Facebook for finally reaching the resolution in this decade-old case. He also said that the settlement not only remediates the harm done to users by the tech giant but also shows that such behavior is unacceptable and would be punished by law in case of misconduct occurring in the future.[2]

Facebook has a huge privacy violation issue it fails to address time after time

Digital data harvest, retention, and purchase have become an extremely lucrative business and fuels tech giants such as Meta and Google. During the time of uncertainty, when data protection regulations were lacking in general, some companies were willing to find loopholes and exploit them for the sake of profits that can be counted in millions, and sometimes even billions of dollars.

It is not a secret that Facebook has a long history of privacy scandals in the past. Possibly the most notorious one, the Cambridge Analytica data gathering incident,[3] occurred back in 2013, to be disclosed only in 2018. Back then, Facebook illegally gathered the personal data of millions of Facebook users without acquiring permission beforehand, which ultimately turned into a huge profit for the social media platform.

According to analysis, the harvested information allowed Cambridge Analytica to create voter profiles and influence the US presidential election in 2016.[4] The British affiliate SLC Group was also in contact with Lukoil – a Russian state-linked oil company. FTC later fined Facebook for $5 billion, which is the largest sum ever levied against a tech company.

Over the years, there have been multiple smaller incidents related to Facebook, and it does not seem that issues have been fixed. While finishing one lawsuit, Meta is facing another one from the Texas attorney general over the unauthorized use of biometric user data.[5]

About the author
Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Passionate web researcher

Gabriel E. Hall is a passionate malware researcher who has been working for 2-spyware for almost a decade.

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