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Meta to pay R1.3 billion to settle a lawsuit alleging Facebook kept tracking users after they logged off

Business Insider US
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Meta will pay $90 million (R1,3 billion) to settle a lawsuit alleging it kept tracking users after they logged off.
  • The 2012 suit said Facebook used plug-ins and cookies to track visits to third-party websites containing "like" buttons.
  • If approved, this would be one of the 10 biggest data privacy class action settlements ever.
  • For more stories visit www.BusinessInsider.co.za

Meta has agreed to pay $90 million (R1,3 billion) to settle a decade-old lawsuit alleging Facebook kept tracking users' internet activity after they'd logged off of the platform.

The proposed settlement was filed late Monday and still requires court approval. If approved, it would be one of the 10 biggest data-privacy class-action settlements ever, according to the document.

The 2012 lawsuit alleges that, between April 2010 and September 2011, 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 but promised to stop when they logged out.

Besides the $90 million (R1,3 billion) 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.

Meta did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment, but a spokesperson told Variety, "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 lawsuit was dismissed in 2017 when a 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 $650 million (R9,7 billion) to settle a separate privacy lawsuit, this one alleging the company's tagging feature violated an Illinois law prohibiting the collection of biometric data without prior notification and written consent. On Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the state is suing Meta over Facebook's now-defunct facial recognition program.

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