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Meta reaches $37.5 mn settlement in location tracking lawsuit

A lawsuit filed by Meta Platforms Inc. against Facebook’s parent company for allegedly breaching users’ privacy by secretly following their movements on their cellphones was settled for $37.5 million.

In federal court in San Francisco, a preliminary settlement of the planned class action was submitted on Monday and needs the judge’s permission.

It addressed concerns that Facebook had gathered information from users whose mobile devices had Location Services disabled, in violation of both California law and its own privacy policy.

Users said that despite not wanting to disclose their whereabouts to Facebook, the firm nonetheless deduced their locations based on their IP (internet protocol) addresses and sent them customised advertisements.

The settlement announced on Monday applies to Facebook users in the US who signed up after January 30, 2015. Despite admitting misconduct, Meta nevertheless settled. Requests for comment on Tuesday did not immediately receive a response.

In a statement to the U.S. Congress in June 2018, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the Menlo Park, California-based business utilises location data ‘to help advertisers reach people in particular areas’.

For instance, it stated that users who dined at specific restaurants would see messages from friends who had dined there or advertisements from companies looking to offer services in the area.

The lawsuit began in November 2018. According to settlement agreements, plaintiffs’ attorneys may ask for up to 30% of the settlement amount to cover legal costs.


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