Facebook To Pay $90m Penalty For Tracking Users

Facebook's parent compant Meta has agreed to pay $90 million to settle a decade-old lawsuit alleging Facebook kept tracking users' internet activity after they'd logged off of the platform. 

Users accused the Facebook of violating federal and state privacy and wiretapping laws by using plug-ins to store cookies that tracked when they visited outside websites containing Facebook “like” buttons.

The proposed settlement, which was filed on 14th February still requires court approval. If approved, it would be one of the 10 biggest data-privacy class-action settlements ever. Facebook agreed to delete all the data at issue.

Initiated in 2012, the case centered on Facebook’s use of proprietary browser plug-ins to track users’ visits to third-party sites.  Facebook obtained consent to track subscribers while logged in but promised to stop the tracking once the subscriber logged out, which according to the class-action suit, was not the case. Facebook violated privacy and wiretapping laws by using plug-ins to store cookies tracking users' visits to third-party websites that contained "like" buttons.

The social media site had users' permission to track them while they were logged in and promised to stop when they logged out, but failed to do so.

Besides the $90 million sum, which would be distributed among affected users, the settlement would require that Facebook delete data improperly collected on users through the use of this practice. Facebook's parent company, Meta, said, "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." 

As part of the settlement, Meta denies any wrongdoing.

The case dates back to a 2010 update by Facebook called “Open Graph,” which was designed to give users’ friends a closer look at their activity and interests across the internet. That lawsuit was dismissed in 2017 when a US  federal judge said the plaintiffs failed to show they had a reasonable expectation of privacy or that they suffered economic harm. 

In 2020, a federal appeals court revived the case, saying there is economic harm in such a situation. Facebook tried to have the Supreme Court take up the case, but it declined, allowing the federal appeals court's decision to stand.

Last year, Facebook agreed to pay $650m to settle a separate private lawsuit alleging the company's tagging feature violated an Illinois law prohibiting the collection of biometric data without prior notification and written consent. 

Business Insider:     Variety:     The East African:     Dawn:   The Citizen:     Haute Lawyer:     Image: Unsplash

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