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In 2018, news broke that Facebook had allowed third-party developers—including the controversial data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica—to obtain large quantities of user data in ways that users probably didn’t anticipate. The fallout led to a controversy over whether Cambridge Analytica had in some way swung the 2016 election for Trump (spoiler: it almost certainly didn’t), but it also generated a $5 billion fine imposed on Facebook by the FTC for violating users’ privacy. Along with that record-breaking fine, the FTC also imposed a number of requirements on Facebook to improve its approach to privacy.
It’s been four years since that settlement, and Facebook is now Meta. So how much has really changed within the company? For this episode of Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Lawfare Senior Editors Alan Rozenshtein and Quinta Jurecic interviewed Meta’s co-chief privacy officers, Erin Egan and Michel Protti, about the company’s approach to privacy and its response to the FTC’s settlement order.
At one point in the conversation, Quinta mentions a class action settlement over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. You can read more about the settlement here. Information about Facebook’s legal arguments regarding user privacy interests is available here and here, and you can find more details in the judge’s ruling denying Facebook’s motion to dismiss.