Facebook legal action: 44 million UK users seek £2.3bn in compensation

FILE - Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2021. A federal judge has ruled, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, that the Federal Trade Commission’s revised antitrust suit against Meta, formerly known as Facebook, can proceed, shutting down the social media company’s request for a dismissal. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)
The claim is the first of its kind against Meta in the UK. Photo: AP

A multibillion-pound legal claim has been launched against Facebook in the UK, which claims that the company generates billions in revenue from consumers' data without compensating them in any way.

Competition law expert Liza Lovdahl Gormsen launched a class-action lawsuit against Facebook’s parent firm, Meta (FB), at the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London, UK. She argues that Facebook used its dominant position to force users to agree to "unfair" terms and conditions.

The lawsuit accuses the tech giant of abusing its market dominance, and is seeking a minimum of £2.3bn ($3.2bn) in damages

The claim is the first of its kind against Meta in the UK and will seek financial redress for Facebook users in the UK between 1 October 2015 and 31 December 2019, who used the site at least once during this period – this is thought to be more than 44 million people.

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It argues that during this time Facebook collected data both within its own platform and outside using mechanisms such as Facebook Pixel, an advertising tool that can be used by third-party websites to monitor how users act on their site.

Gormsen said: “In the 17 years since it was created, Facebook became the sole social network in the UK where you could be sure to connect with friends and family in one place.”

“Yet there was a dark side to Facebook – it abused its market dominance to impose unfair terms and conditions on ordinary Britons, giving it the power to exploit their personal data.”

In response, a Meta spokesman said: “People access our service for free. They choose our services because we deliver value for them and they have meaningful control of what information they share on Meta’s platforms and who with.

“We have invested heavily to create tools that allow them to do so.”

Meanwhile, the UK's Information Commissioner's Office said last week it wants to see if Meta's headset and VR services do enough to protect the privacy and data of children.

Meta has also applied to appeal against a British competition watchdog ruling that it must sell GIF search engine Giphy for reasons that include the deal removing a potential competitor in display advertising.