Facebook’s parent company Meta is now facing a £2.3bn lawsuit in the UK after allegations that users’ data was exploited to increase profits and the company has broken competition laws.
The multi-billion-dollar case could mean up to 44 million users receiving compensation for damages, according to a competition expert, who started the lawsuit.
Director of the Competition Law Forum Dr. Liza Lovdahl Gormsen, who launched the lawsuit, says that Facebook has been abusing its market dominance by imposing unfair terms and conditions on users to collect and exploit their personal data to generate revenue.
She argues that Facebook users are forced to accept these conditions if they want to continue accessing the platform – which many people need to do – and that this is an unfair deal.
In addition to this, she claims that as Facebook is in a dominant position in the digital marketplace, it should have a responsibility to behave ethically.
Meta has made the social networking industry much less competitive in the last few years, especially since it acquired Instagram and WhatsApp.
What happens next?
Meta has faced a number of lawsuits recently for competition and data breaches. However, Gormsen says that competition authorities have been solely focused on how Meta’s dominance affects its competitors, rather than how it affects consumers.
In this case, Facebook collected data within its platform to generate deep data profiles that could be sold or used to make money, and its position makes it hard for consumers to have free choice to refuse the terms and conditions that allow the harvesting of data.
Dr. Gormsen now intends to bring the case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London. A pre-action letter has been sent to Meta claiming a minimum of £2.3 billion on behalf of affected UK Facebook users who used the social media platform between 2015 and 2019.
The class-action case argues that UK’s 1998 Competition Act. Gormsen will represent those affected, all people in the UK who used Facebook at least once between the period of 2015-2019. Meta has been notified of the claim.