BUSINESS

Facebook faces $3.2 billion UK class action over market dominance

January 14, 2022
The lawsuit claims that Facebook should pay its 44 million UK users compensation for the exploitation of their data.
The lawsuit claims that Facebook should pay its 44 million UK users compensation for the exploitation of their data.

LONDON — Social media giant Facebook, now known as Meta Platforms, faces a 2.3 billion pound ($3.2 billion) class action in Britain over allegations it abused its market dominance by exploiting the personal data, according to Reuters news agency.

If the lawsuit succeeds nearly 44 million British Facebook users could receive a $68 payout each.

Liza Lovdahl Gormsen, a senior adviser to Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) watchdog and a competition law academic, said she was bringing the case on behalf of people in Britain who had used Facebook between 2015 and 2019.

The lawsuit, which will be heard by London's Competition Appeal Tribunal, alleges Facebook made billions of pounds by imposing unfair terms and conditions that demanded consumers surrender valuable personal data to access the network.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, the law firm representing Lovdahl Gormsen, has notified Facebook of the claim.

The lawsuit claims that Facebook should pay its 44 million UK users compensation for the exploitation of their data between 2015 and 2019, the Daily Mail reported on Thursday.

"It is claimed this allowed the firm to generate billions in revenues from their data, while users received no monetary returns, which the claim labels an 'unfair deal',” said the report.

Reacting to the lawsuit, a Meta spokesperson said that people access our service for free.

"They choose our services because we deliver value for them and they have meaningful control of what information they share on Meta's platforms and with whom. We have invested heavily to create tools that allow them to do so," the company spokesperson added.

The case comes days after Facebook lost an attempt to strike out an antitrust lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one of the biggest challenges by the U.S. government against a tech company in decades as Washington attempts to tackle Big Tech's extensive market power.

"In the 17 years since it was created, Facebook became the sole social network in the UK where you could be sure to connect with friends and family in one place," Lovdahl Gornsen said.

"Yet, there was a dark side to Facebook; it abused its market dominance to impose unfair terms and conditions on ordinary Britons, giving it the power to exploit their personal data."

Lovdahl Gormsen alleges Facebook collected data within its platform and through mechanisms like the Facebook Pixel, allowing it to build an "all-seeing picture" of Internet usage and generate valuable, deep data profiles of users.

Opt-out class actions, like Lovdahl Gormsen's, bind a defined group automatically into a lawsuit unless individuals opt out. — Agencies


January 14, 2022
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