Meta, the parent company of Facebook, will pay $725 million to settle the Cambridge Analytica scandal case.
Meta Platforms Inc. (NASDAQ:META), which owns Facebook, has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that said the social media giant let third parties, like Cambridge Analytica, get access to users’ personal information.
The proposed settlement, which was revealed in a court filing late on Thursday, would end a long-running lawsuit that started when it was found out in 2018 that Facebook had given the British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica access to the data of as many as 87 million users.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said that the proposed settlement was the largest ever reached in a U.S. data privacy class action and the most Meta had ever paid to end a class action lawsuit.
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In a joint statement, the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs, Derek Loeser and Lesley Weaver, said, “This historic settlement will help the class in this complicated and new privacy case.”
As part of the settlement, Meta did not say that it had done anything wrong. The settlement still needs to be approved by a federal judge in San Francisco. In a statement, the company said that settling was “in the best interest of our shareholders and community.”
Meta said, “Over the past three years, we’ve changed the way we think about privacy and put in place a complete privacy programme.”
Cambridge Analytica, which is no longer in business, worked on Donald Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign and was able to access personal information from millions of Facebook accounts in order to profile and target voters.
Cambridge Analytica got this information from a researcher who was given permission by Facebook to put an app on the social media site that collected data from millions of users without their permission.
The resulting Cambridge Analytica scandal led to government investigations into the company’s privacy practises, lawsuits, and a high-profile U.S. congressional hearing where lawmakers questioned Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
In 2019, Facebook agreed to pay $5 billion to end an investigation into its privacy practises by the Federal Trade Commission and $100 million to settle claims by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it misled investors about how it used users’ data.
State attorneys general are still looking into the matter, and the company is defending itself against a lawsuit from the attorney general for Washington, D.C.
Users of Facebook said that the company broke federal and state laws by letting app developers and business partners get their personal information without their permission. The settlement on Thursday ended those claims.
Lawyers for the users said that Facebook made them think they could keep control of their personal information when, in reality, it let thousands of trusted outsiders get access.
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Facebook said that its users have no right to privacy in the information they share on social media with their friends. But U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said that point of view was “so wrong,” and in 2019, he let the case move forward in most ways.