Facebook privacy suit cost Meta $90 mn; was accused of tracking users online after logging off | Tech News

Facebook privacy suit cost Meta $90 mn; was accused of tracking users online after logging off

Facebook-parent Meta has agreed to pay $90 million to settle a lawsuit accusing it of tracking users online even after they logged off the social network, court records show.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 10:10 IST
Facebook
The suit alleged Facebook violated privacy guidelines by tracking its users' visits to outside web pages that contained "like" buttons in order to better target ads. (REUTERS)
Facebook
The suit alleged Facebook violated privacy guidelines by tracking its users' visits to outside web pages that contained "like" buttons in order to better target ads. (REUTERS)

Facebook-parent Meta has agreed to pay $90 million to settle a 10-year-old lawsuit accusing it of tracking users online even after they logged off the social network, court records show. The agreement was filed Monday in a California court and if approved by a judge would put to rest one of the series of suits alleging the social media giant invaded users' privacy. "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," Meta spokesperson Drew Pusateri told AFP.

The suit alleged the Facebook violated privacy guidelines by tracking its users' visits to outside web pages that contained Facebook "like" buttons in order to better target ads.

That tracking contradicted assurances given by Facebook at the time, according to court filings.

The suit, which consolidated state and federal litigation, represented people who had active Facebook accounts between early 2010 and late 2011.

Facebook was able to tell when someone loaded a page embedded with its content, such as a "like" button, and could link the data back to users' profiles, according to legal filings.

The issue raised in the suit was addressed and is not impacting Facebook users, according to the social network.

The proposed settlement calls for Meta to pay $90 million into a claims fund and delete all data the suit argued was wrongly collected.

Meta and other US internet giants are in the crosshairs of privacy advocates, users and regulators regarding how they use people's data and software "cookies" that track online behavior.

Meta's Clegg Gets Promotion as Zuckerberg Steps Back From Policy

(Bloomberg) Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has promoted his top policy executive, Nick Clegg, to an even greater role inside the company - a move that will mean Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg are less involved in Meta's policy decisions in the future.

Clegg was already running Meta's global policy organization, but Zuckerberg said in a post Wednesday that he will now “lead our company on all our policy matters,” including interactions with governments and how Meta will “make the case publicly for our products and our work.” Clegg, who was reporting to Sandberg, is now reporting to Zuckerberg too, with the new title of President for Global Affairs.

“We need a senior leader at the level of myself (for our products) and Sheryl (for our business) who can lead and represent us for all of our policy issues globally,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Clegg's elevated role means that Zuckerberg and Sandberg will defer to Clegg more on policy decisions. Zuckerberg, in particular, has spent more time in recent years on policy issues like content moderation and regulation than he would like, according to sources familiar with his thinking. That has included many discussions around issues like political advertising and how to handle high-profile users, like former President Donald Trump.

Zuckerberg would rather dedicate more time to Meta's technology and products -- areas where he is more experienced -- including plans to build a new immersive version of the internet known as the metaverse, say people familiar with his thinking.

“As Nick takes on this new leadership role, it will enable me to focus more of my energy on leading the company as we build new products for the future, and it will support Sheryl as she continues to focus on the success of our business,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Clegg joined Meta in late 2018 at a crucial time for the company, formerly known as Facebook. It was still reeling from the aftermath of Facebook's unexpected role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and was facing increased scrutiny from politicians and regulators for data and privacy practices following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Meta is once again preparing for high-stake elections with the 2022 midterms in November. It will be the first major vote in the U.S. since Trump refused to accept his 2020 loss and pushed other Republicans to question the integrity of the results. Meta and other social media companies will have to make tough calls about what content to take action against and what to leave alone in an election when all 435 seats in the House are up for grabs, as well as 34 of the 100 Senate seats.

As a former politician -- he was Deputy Prime Minister in the U.K. from 2010 to 2015 -- Clegg brings a new perspective to Meta's senior leadership team. In his three years on the job, he's developed a close relationship with Zuckerberg, and taken the lead on many of the company's most important decisions. He spearheaded Meta's effort to create an independent Oversight Board to help make content decisions, and also shepherded the company's process for reviewing and ultimately suspending Trump's Facebook and Instagram account following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Now Clegg will be tasked with selling Meta's new product vision for the metaverse to regulators. “The next few years will be a crucial time for our company and our industry as new rules for the internet are written all over the world, and as we set out on our journey to help build the metaverse,” Sandberg wrote in a post. “Nick's calm and principled leadership will continue to be an asset for Meta in the months and years to come.”

Meta is also restructuring its public relations group following the departure of John Pinette, the former vice president of communications in early January. David Ginsberg is being promoted to head of communications and public affairs. Ginsberg, who has been at Meta for almost five years, was previously running the company's choice and competition team, which focuses on building products to meet new and expected regulation, like data transfer and portability features.

That group will continue to report to Ginsberg, as will a new Global Public Affairs team under Tucker Bounds. In an internal company post shared Wednesday, Clegg said that Ginsberg's new team will be restructured further in the future.

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First Published Date: 16 Feb, 22:51 IST
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