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Facebook privacy lawsuit on behalf of US users sees Meta offer $37.5M settlement

A Facebook privacy lawsuit looks likely to be settled after parent company Meta offered a total of $37.5M to settle claims by US users.

The lawsuit relates to Facebook tracking user locations even after they had switched off Location Services …

Where location data was not available, the app used IP addresses in order to obtain a general location for the purpose of serving ads for local businesses. The lawsuit alleged that this violated California law, as well as breaching the company’s own privacy policy – the latter meaning that any US Facebook user would have a claim against the company.

CNN reports on the provisional settlement.

A preliminary settlement of the proposed class action was filed on Monday in San Francisco federal court, and requires a judge’s approval […]

The users said that while they did not want to share their locations with Facebook, the company nevertheless inferred where they were from their IP (internet protocol) addresses, and used that information to send them targeted advertising.

Monday’s settlement covers people in the United States who used Facebook after Jan. 30, 2015.

As usual with class action lawsuits, don’t expect to receive anything more than a token amount if you are among eligible users. The law firm usually takes 27-30% of the sum, with the rest divided between millions of people.

The type of inferred data used by Facebook could now be illegal in Europe, thanks to a precedent set by a court ruling.

The court essentially set a precedent that inferred data is still personal data. This means that if a company can work out things about you, then that information is protected every bit as much as personal data you provided directly.

This impacts ad-tracking because companies make these kind of inferences all the time, and devise personalized ad targeting based on them.

Apple has also been in a long-running privacy battle with Facebook, the social network claiming that the introduction of App Tracking Transparency harmed both its own revenue and the ability of small businesses to purchase effective ads. However, it was this month revealed that Apple first tried to strike a deal for a cut of Facebook’s ad revenue.

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