In the wake of scandal where a data analytics company harvested the data of approximately 50 million Facebook users without their permission in order to accrue information that could have been used in the 2016 presidential election, a Maryland woman is suing Facebook.
Lauren Price filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the British-based analytics firm that helped funnel Facebook’s user data to the Trump campaign. Price alleges that the social media company violated its promise to protect its users’ privacy.
“The lawsuit filed by our client seeks to address a failure on the part of Facebook to honor its commitment to maintain the privacy settings of its users and to prevent the unauthorized access of its users’ information,” said John Yanchunis, an attorney representing Price. “In addition to injunctive relief to prevent this from occurring again, the suit seeks damages. While the company has now admitted fault, its actions appear out of consequence rather than conscience.”
The New York Times first reported on March 17 that Cambridge Analytica had obtained the private data of tens of millions of Facebook users from an outsider researcher that did so in violation of Facebook’s privacy standards. The data that Cambridge Analyitica collected could be used to help determine users’ personalities and to influence them with target ads. The company also has other ties to the Trump campaign: Steve Bannon, former Trump campaign CEO and White House chief strategist, serves as a board member to the company, and Cambridge Analytica receives funding from the Mercer family, a large donor to the Trump campaign.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for breach of its users’ data, saying the company is already working to secure its users’ private information so another breach in data cannot happen again.
“This was a breach of trust and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “I promise to do better for you.”
Yanchunis said Zuckerberg’s apology is not enough and that his client is seeking $500,000,000 and changes to Facebook’s policy to protect users’ data in her class action lawsuit against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.
“Facebook, for its part, knew this improper data aggregation was occurring and failed to stop it, or actively avoided discovering such knowledge in order to profess supposed ignorance,” according to the complaint against Facebook filed in the California Northern District Court.