Meta says its $725 million lawsuit settlement ends Cambridge Analytica scandal. U.S. state lawyers say not so fast

March 1, 2023, 9:48 AM UTC
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg departs from federal court in San Jose, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2022.
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Meta Platforms Inc. is wrong to say its $725 million settlement of a lawsuit claiming Facebook illegally shared user data with a controversial research firm protects it from similar claims brought by New Mexico, attorneys for the US state said.

Meta resolved the case with Cambridge Analytica last year, in what lawyers representing Facebook users said was the largest recovery ever in a data privacy class action. But in a surprise move Tuesday Meta told New Mexico that the agreement arrived at in federal court in San Francisco “will extinguish” a similar lawsuit the southwestern state has filed.

“It is imperative that the court be aware of Facebook’s interpretation of the settlement agreement,” New Mexico said in the filing, “so that it can take all appropriate measures to ensure that the court does not inadvertently release claims raised against Facebook in other cases and jurisdictions.” 

The settlement aims to bring to a conclusion a 2018 lawsuit brought by Facebook users after it was revealed that the UK research firm connected to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for president gained access to the data of as many as 87 million of the social media network’s users. The agreement requires the approval of a federal judge overseeing the suit.

Meta said in December that the settlement was in the best interests of its community and shareholders. Lawyers for the users said Facebook has stopped allowing third parties to access data about users through their friends, and strengthened its ability to restrict and monitor how third parties acquire and use Facebook users’ information.

New Mexico said that through the state’s attorney general it has filed a lawsuit against Meta “arising out of substantially the same facts and circumstances” as those in the San Francisco case, according to the court filing. The settlement agreement “contains no direct reference to the claims brought by the State of New Mexico.”

Meta didn’t immediately respond to an email sent out of normal business hours seeking comment.

The case is In Re Facebook Consumer Privacy User Profile Litigation, 18-MD-02843, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Learn how to navigate and strengthen trust in your business with The Trust Factor, a weekly newsletter examining what leaders need to succeed. Sign up here.

Read More

CryptocurrencyInvestingBanksReal Estate