- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Facebook is set to pay $90 million to settle a privacy lawsuit alleging the social network impermissibly tracked users after they logged out of the platform, according to a proposed preliminary settlement filed in federal court.

The decade-old class-action lawsuit accused Facebook of violating federal and California laws on wiretapping with regard to how the social network tracked people visiting other websites that displayed Facebook “Like” buttons. Facebook allegedly sold the data to others and used the information to enrich itself.

The preliminary settlement agreement filed Monday by the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said Facebook, which has reorganized as Meta, agreed to pay $90 million to settle the case and the company would delete the data that plaintiffs said was wrongfully collected.

The plaintiffs’ team is thrilled. Their lawyers’ filing said the $90 million settlement is one of the “ten largest data privacy class action settlements ever” and called the deletion of data the “gold standard” for relief in such class action lawsuits.

“This settlement not only repairs harm done to Facebook users but sets a precedent for the future disposition of such matters,” David Straite, a co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “I’ve been involved in more than a few data privacy matters in which the defendant would only consider monetary relief or window-dressing injunctive relief. We applaud Facebook‘s willingness to also delete the user data that we alleged was improperly collected.”

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

Facebook pushed for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene but was denied last year. The platform has denied wrongdoing, according to reports.

The settlement proposes to cover all people using Facebook in the U.S. between April 22, 2010, and Sept. 26, 2011, who visited websites outside of Facebook that displayed Facebook‘s “Like” button.

The end of the class-action dispute will not mark the end of privacy complaints against Facebook. Texas sued Meta on Monday over allegations that Facebook “unlawfully captured the biometric identifiers of Texans” without consent.

The lawsuit from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accuses Facebook of building an artificial intelligence empire on the backs of Texans through deception.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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