Facebook, now known as Meta Platforms, is facing a more than £2.3 billion (over A$4.3 billion) class action lawsuit in Britain over allegations it allegedly abused its dominant market position by exploiting the personal data of 44 million users.
Liza Lovdahl Gormsen, senior adviser to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and competition law researcher, said she was bringing the case on behalf of people in the UK who used Facebook in 2015-2019.
The lawsuit, which will be heard by the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London, alleges that Facebook earned billions of pounds by imposing unfair terms and conditions that required consumers to hand over valuable personal data to gain access to the network.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, the law firm representing Lovdahl Gormsen, notified Facebook of the complaint.
Facebook said people have used its services because it has provided them with value and “have significant control over what information they share on Meta’s platforms and with whom.”
The case comes days after Facebook lost an attempt to overturn an antitrust lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one of the US government’s biggest challenges against a tech company in decades so that Washington is trying to tackle the extended market power of Big Tech.
“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,” Lovdahl Gornsen said.
“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.”
Lovdahl Gormsen alleges Facebook collected data within its platform and through mechanisms like the Facebook Pixel, allowing it to build an “all-seeing picture” of Internet usage and generate valuable, deep data profiles of users.
Opt-out class actions, like Lovdahl Gormsen’s, bind a defined group automatically into a lawsuit unless individuals opt out.