Facebook Faces a Bombardment of Lawsuits Over Handling of Personal Information
Facebook is facing yet another class action lawsuit in the wake of the well-publicized Cambridge Analytica scandal. The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California near the company’s Menlo Park headquarters, follows close on the heels of Facebook’s admission that the personal information of a large number of its users was collected via a personality quiz app named “This is Your Digital Life” and shared with Cambridge Analytica. The app harvested the personal information of not only those who used it, but also millions of users who were merely friends of the people who installed the app.
The app developer was allegedly granted permission by Facebook to collect data for academic research, but sold the data on to Cambridge Analytica to be used to influence voting. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook breached its agreements with users by failing to require app developers to respect the app users privacy, and further failing to prevent data collection or require data destruction once it become aware of the issue. According to the complaint, “Facebook made only the weakest attempts to prevent further access to this data. It merely asked these exploitative actors to certify that they’d destroyed the data.” The lawsuit further alleges that Facebook was unjustly enriched by selling advertisements using the proposed class’ data that it failed to protect.
The lawsuit is one of a series of similar complaints against Facebook in recent days. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection is investigating Facebook’s data practices.
All of this follows Facebook’s 2012 settlement with the FTC — in which it did not admit fault — that it deceived users by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public. The 2012 settlement required Facebook to give users clear and prominent notice and obtain express consent before sharing information beyond the established privacy settings.