- Facebook and its attorneys have been fined $925,078 as part of an ongoing class action lawsuit.
- The site shared user data with companies such as consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
- A judge ruled that Facebook had been “trying to gaslight” the court over its conduct for years.
Facebook’s parent company Meta agreed in December to pay $725 million to settle a Cambridge Analytica privacy lawsuit, but a judge on Thursday ruled that the social media giant had stolen user data without permission. We decided it wasn’t enough to make sure we learned lessons from sharing.
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria ordered Lawyers for Facebook and prominent law firm Gibson Dunn have sought an additional $925,078.51 from the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, saying they “attempted to gaslight” users and the court for their actions.
According to the judge, Facebook and its attorneys “engaged in a sustained, coordinated and dishonest effort to throw one obstacle after another in front of the plaintiffs. It was an attempt to persuade them to settle the case for less money than they would otherwise have gotten.”
“Unfortunately, this kind of conduct is not uncommon in our court system,” the judge wrote. “But here it was unusually vicious and persistent.”
Chhabria wrote that the social media giant and its lawyers delayed the case and withheld evidence during depositions.
“All the while, Facebook and Gibson Dunn have audaciously accused plaintiffs’ attorneys of delaying the case, and plaintiffs’ reasonable efforts to obtain apparently relevant findings were frivolous. argued,” the judge said. dominate Added. “Facebook and Gibson Dunn seem like he spent the better part of three years gaslighting his opponents, let alone the courts.”
The class action lawsuit was first filed in 2018 after it was revealed that Facebook exposed the data of its 87 million users to third-party companies, including political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
Christopher Wiley, a former Cambridge Analytica employee, said he hoped to influence the outcome of the 2016 election by accusing the company of collecting data from millions of Facebook users without their consent and disclosing their details. The presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz each paid more than $5 million to the company.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg was eventually dismissed for his knowledge and asked the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees whether Facebook could have done something to stop the problem before it was too late. testified before the joint public hearing.
The court’s nearly $1 million sanction for misconduct during legal proceedings “is a gradual change for companies like Facebook and even law firms like Gibson Dunn,” the judge said. . dominate Admitted. In 2022, Meta’s total revenue reached approximately US$116.6 billion, according to data from. Statista.
“However, it is important for courts to help protect litigants from suffering financial damage as a result of misconduct in an opposing party’s litigation.” dominate continued. “And I hope this ruling creates some sort of incentive for Facebook and Gibson Dunn (and possibly others) to act more honorably moving forward.”
Lawyers for Gibson Dunn, who is named in the lawsuit, and Facebook representatives did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.