Facebook Settles Decade-Old, $90 Million Lawsuit Alleging It Tracked Users’ Data Without Consent
Computer screen showing the website for social networking site, Facebook
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The parent company of Facebook settled a decade-old privacy lawsuit related to protecting privacy on the Big Tech platform.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Meta Inc. filed a preliminary settlement with plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit dating back to 2010 and 2011, which said that Facebook abused its “cookies” policy and tracked users even after they logged off the platform. Facebook agreed to sequester and delete data that was “wrongfully collected” during that time and to pay $90 million to affected users who filed a claim in the lawsuit, after legal fees are deducted.

The lawsuit alleged that Facebook got consent from their users to track their information while they were using the social media network and promised to stop tracking that data once a user logged off the platform. But Facebook allegedly continued to track their users’ browsing data, even after the users logged off. CNN added that the lawsuit stemmed from a 2010 update to Facebook’s software called “Open Graph.” The update included a “like” button plug-in for sites around the internet allowing Facebook users to “like” web pages outside of Facebook and share those pages with people in their friend networks. But court documents alleged, via CNN, that that plug-in allowed Facebook to collect data on users’ activity on those websites, including what sites they visited, any items they purchased, and interactions they had with the site, regardless of whether or not they used the “like button.”

According to CNN, Facebook said at the time that it would not collect user-identifying data about a user’s activity on websites that used the plug-in while they were logged out of Facebook. But researchers writing in The Wall Street Journal, via CNN, reported that Facebook continued to collect that data even after a user logged out of Facebook. When the issue was made public in the 2011 Wall Street Journal piece, Facebook updated its privacy policy and issued a software patch correcting the plug-in.

The lawsuit alleged a breach of contract. Originally filed in 2012, the case was dragged out in the court system. After plaintiffs filed an updated complaint in 2017, their third complaint, Facebook moved to dismiss the suit, and a judge dismissed the case. But the plaintiffs appealed the dismissal, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals partly reversed it. Facebook appealed to the Supreme Court, but the court declined to hear the case, which allowed settlement negotiations to begin.

“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,” Meta spokesperson Drew Pusateri said in a statement on Tuesday, via AP.

Facebook is also currently facing another lawsuit over alleged digital privacy violations. The Daily Wire reported Monday that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit alleging that Facebook captured and utilized biometric data from millions of Texans “contained in photos and videos uploaded by friends and family who used the social media app.” Paxton, along with the attorneys general of Washington state, Indiana, and Washington, D.C., is also suing Google for allegedly using deceptive practices to continually track users’ location data.

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