Facebook is the largest social media company in the world today. It’s had its share of struggles on the legal scene. Facebook has a history of being sued. It has settled many of its lawsuits both in and out of court. Of the many suits throughout its history, here are the ten biggest. We consider the term “biggest” to mean the most impactful, not necessarily the most expensive. Facebook has had its share of both.
10. Class Action Lawsuit about scraping texts and call logs
John Condelles III led a class-action lawsuit after discovering that Facebook logged texts and call logs when users used the smartphone app supplied through Facebook. This lawsuit alleged Facebook collected and stored that information without the knowledge or consent of users. The Facebook practice of scraping call logs and texts violates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Other violations include the Consumer Legal Remedies Act and the Unfair Competition Law of California. They consider Facebook’s actions as fraudulent business practices. The suit alleges that the privacy notice materials and terms of service fail to inform users that their phone and text communications would be logged along with information supplied by recipients. Facebook maintained the data on its servers for its use. The Class action lawsuit seeks damages for $5 million, according to Industry Leaders Magazine.
What makes this case so important?
This lawsuit goes beyond a complaint filed by a single user. It is significant in setting a precedent for the way that Facebook uses the information that users share in good faith that the company will protect sensitive information. Scraping call logs and texts is an act that violates the rights of users and it is covered in consumer protection laws. When a case escalates to the level of class action, it implies that there are thousands if not millions of people who may have sustained damages by the actions or nations of the plaintiff. Such practices that the suit alleges are unethical and a win against Facebook would not only be a huge expense, it would also damage the reputation of the social media provider and cause clients to be less trusting of using the services that it offers. It could have a significant negative impact on Facebook, possibly resulting in loss of users and hesitancy to use the popular social media site.
9. Lawsuits against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica
A class-action lawsuit was filed against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica for misuse of data collected. the companies were accused of neglecting to protect users’ personal information. It further asserts that the company obtained sensitive data on 87 million Facebook users to develop political propaganda campaigns in the United States and Britain. The lawsuit was a joint effort filed by attorneys from both countries. The UK alleges that a million users from Britain had their data used in the UK Brexit that occurred in 2016 and the information was also used to further political agendas during the presidential election that took place the same year in the United States. Misappropriated data acquisition and use is a serious charge. Investigations from Congress and the Federal Trade Commission were instigated from news of the lawsuit with additional investigations by international courts. Facebook did receive a fine for breach of data protection of UK data. This is another class-action lawsuit that involves multiple plaintiffs seeking damages for misuse of personal information. Misappropriation of data acquisition is a serious charge. When it involves the use of information to further political agendas, information about these activities can have a detrimental impact upon Facebook if the lawsuit is upheld. We’ve already seen the negative attention that the allegations caused with congress becoming involved, along with other weighty organizations with the authority to impose criminal charges. These legal proceedings have the potential to put Facebook in an uncomfortable position with the general public.
8. Class Action Lawsuit about Face-Tagging in photos
Illinois users instigated a class-action lawsuit against Facebook over facial recognition. The technology feature allows users to tag themselves and others using the technology, but it is also used by Facebook to tag users automatically. Nimesh Patel brought the suit to life alleging that Facebook violated the Biometric Privacy Act of Illinois for allowing collection and storage of biometric data. The lawsuit was allowed by a federal court in San Francisco. According to CNet, the lawsuit concluded in a $650 million settlement in favor of the plaintiffs. The significance of this class action lawsuit is that Facebook was found liable for the claims and forced to pay out hundreds of millions in damages. Rulings like this further erode the confidence that users have in the company’s handling of their sensitive personal information. While Facebook asserts that they’ve taken steps to resolve such issues, time and time again, we learn about yet more lawsuits being filed.
7. ACLU lawsuit over gender-bias ads
The ACLU accused Facebook of allowing favoritism of men over women in employment advertisements through the site. The lawsuit was filed in September of 2018, claiming that the ad targeting tools supplied by Facebook violated civil rights and a claim was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This was one of two similar claims filed against the social media giant. The other posed similar allegations for targeting audiences for housing ads that excluded some ethnicities. The lawsuit against Facebook for embracing these practices was backed by the Justice Department. When the ACLU gets involved it attracts media attention. Situations dealing with gender bias related to fair employment practices or fair housing practices are big deals on the social front. We’re trying to move away from discriminatory practices as a society. Allowing them to flourish on a social media site only perpetuates this larger societal problem. It’s unknown if Facebook was fully aware of the full magnitude of the problem or if it was one of those situations that nobody caught. This is a major problem in society and the outcome of the lawsuit is likely to fall under heavy scrutiny by the public.
6. 2018 Lawsuit over inflated video view metric
Advertisers and publishers were incensed by a questionable practice of inflating the amount of time that users spend watching videos on a platform that results in payments for time spent. Facebook initially dismissed the allegations citing them as incorrect. They later admitted that the allegations were true. The lawsuit claimed that Facebook committed the miscalculations with the knowledge that they were inflating the time allotments reported, resulting in a lawsuit over the scandal. Again, this is an impactful lawsuit that deals with honesty in business practices. It calls into question the integrity of the company and the leaders in charge of the department overseeing this segment of its operations. Any scandal has the potential to be bad for business. Large companies such as Facebook employ thousands of workers and some make mistakes that end up costing the company dearly when there are findings against its practices.
5. California Lawsuit against Facebook over Pikinis
A lawsuit was filed in the state of California against Facebook claiming that the social media giant caused damages to the company by changing its privacy settings and taking steps to prevent developers from gathering the necessary information necessary to operate the services. Facebook was taking the data from the Pikinis company and offering access to the user data to major advertisers. The developer of the Pikini app was Six4Three, and they confirmed that they allowed people to find photos of people in bathing suits on Facebook. In this instance, it appears Six4Three shared that user information and Facebook also shared it. It sends the message that user information is not safe from being used at the discretion of the administrators that have access. Any of your photos or personal data is subject to the whims of the company or companies that are granted access. With so many apps offered on Facebook, user information is likely being shared with multiple companies, whether you approve of it.
4. Georgia Newspaper anti-trust, civil action lawsuits against Facebook
Axios reports that multiple newspaper companies in Georgia filed an antitrust civil action lawsuit against Facebook and Google for the companies’ monopoly over the digital advertising market. They were cornering the market and taking revenue that local news agencies would have otherwise received. More than 200 newspapers filed suit against the companies and the event turned into a national effort. The movement snowballed and multiple groups filed lawsuits against Facebook for similar complaints. They filed lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. They merged the plethora of lawsuits. We’re seeing so many antitrust civil action lawsuits filed against Facebook that the courts found it necessary to merge them. This shows that there are hundreds of organizations that believe they have been negatively affected by the monopolistic presence that Facebook has achieved within the advertising industry.
3. Sattvica, SA v Facebook, Inc
On November 4, 2021, they filed a lawsuit against Facebook, Inc. in the Florida Southern District Court for Trademark infringement. This is yet another serious charge levied against the company. This is an ongoing case and a fairly new lawsuit that is unresolved. The information shows that there have been thirteen court actions on the matter so far. This is a lawsuit that could be damaging to Facebook’s reputation if the social media giant is found guilty of the allegations.
2. Personality Quiz Lawsuits against Facebook
Ben Redmont of California. filed another lawsuit filed against Facebook he alleges the “this is your digital life.com personality quiz resulted in users having their data breached. This was one of many ongoing lawsuits about the personality quiz filed in courts in 2007. They shared user data when friends logged into the app. They charge Facebook for not protecting user data. The plaintiffs are seeking damage over $1,000 per violation. If found guilty it could cost them over $40,000 per day for each violation. The fines could be astronomical since they would date back to 2007 and 2009, respectively. Not only would a loss, in this case, be expensive, it could also result in users being hesitant to use the apps offered through the site.
1. Federal Trade Commission Lawsuit against Facebook
According to the FTC, the biggest lawsuit in the history of Facebook is one that claimed several years of unlawful conduct by the social media giant. The charges alleged by the FTC were for illegal monopolization. They cited unfair methods of competition along with several other alleged violations. Acquisitions of multiple companies and placing anticompetitive conditions on software developers further protected the monopoly on several services Facebook provided. The FTC levied conditions that, if approved, would have called for Facebook to sell some of its holdings and give prior notice for future acquisitions and mergers for submission of FTC approval. Multiple states joined in the antitrust lawsuit, suing Facebook for similar charges.
We’ve chosen ten of the many lawsuits filed against Facebook. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The lawsuits filed have the potential to negatively impact the reputation of the social media giant if the plaintiffs are successful in proving their allegations. We see everything from allegations of anti-trust law violations, to improper use of the personal information of users and more. Facebook has settled some of these cases, but many others are still pending. The social media company has endured multiple investigations by federal bodies and agencies. It’s spent years fighting battles in the legal system. Compared with other companies, this seems to be the nature of business. Sometimes, the legal system establishes wrongdoing. In others, the cases get dismissed. Most will have some effect on the opinions of at least some users.