Facebook Pays $550 Million In Facial Recognition Settlement

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Facebook paid $550 million to settle a claim with the state of Illinois that they stored the biometric data of users without their consent. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Founder and CEO, promised users better privacy protection, although the company did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement.

Repeated privacy issues have caused Facebook stock to fall in Q4 of 2020. In 2019, their profits decreased for the first time in about five years by 16%, despite the fact that their advertising revenue increased by 27% during the same time period. In 2018, Facebook warned investors that implementing more privacy protections could hurt profit, according to an article from the BBC.

In August, Facebook tried to appeal this class action lawsuit, claiming that they did alert users that they were using facial recognition. San Francisco’s 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals rejected this appeal unanimously, maintaining that Facebook violated the Biometric Information Privacy Act in their “Tag Suggestions” feature. This feature allowed Facebook to use facial recognition on photos to suggest to users who to tag. A lawyer for the plaintiffs named Shawn Williams said of the case,

“This biometric data is so sensitive that if it is compromised, there is simply no recourse. It’s not like a Social Security card or credit card number where you can change the number. You can’t change your face.”

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The Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Last year, Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission, paying $5 billion due to their selling of data from about 87 million users to Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm that may have influenced the 2016 presidential election, according to an article from Reuters. Facebook also exposed data to myPersonality, a personality quiz app that included answers to “intimate questionnaires”.

The data of over three million people was exposed for four years, and although it was anonymized, it was easy to de-anonymize according to New Scientist. In response, Facebook reviewed and suspends many apps, including myPersonality.


How much did the Facebook lawsuit settle for?

In it’s most recent lawsuit with the state of Illinois, Facebook paid $550 million. In it’s settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Facebook paid $5 billion.

Is there a class action lawsuit against Facebook?

Facebook just settled a class action lawsuit from the state of Illinois for $550 million.

Who gets the $5 billion Facebook fine?

The $5 billion Facebook fine will go to the United States Treasury’s general fund.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At Degreed.com, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.