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Facebook faces $3.1 billion class-action lawsuit in UK

A British academic wants Facebook to pay more than $3 billion in damages to the social network’s 44 million users in the United Kingdom for alleged breach of the country’s competition laws. Dr. Liza Lovdahl Gormsen, an expert in competition law, filed a class-action lawsuit against the US tech behemoth. In her legal action filed on Wednesday with the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal in London, Gormsen accused Facebook, which has rebranded itself as Meta Platforms, of exploiting the personal data of its users, TechCrunch reported. Meta Platforms released a statement to the Post which read: “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.” Gormsen is asking British courts to force the company to pay $3.1 billion in damages to 44 million users of Facebook — or just over $70 per user. According to her website, funding for the lawsuit was provided by Innsworth, one of the largest litigation funders in the world. In building her case, she says Facebook extracted an “unfair price” from British users of the platform. While users were forced to give up their personal data and information, all they received in return was “free” access to the platform that let them communicate with friends and post photos. Facebook then used its users’ personal data to generate billions of dollars in revenue while its users received no financial compensation. “In a free and fair market, competition should lead to lower prices and increased quality,” Gormsen said. “But the bigger a company is in the market, the less choice we have, no matter what else they’re doing. Facebook has exploited its dominance at its users’ cost.” Gormsen alleges that Facebook exploited users’ data between 2015 and 2019. She cited the Cambridge Analytica scandal in the legal filing. In 2019, Facebook paid a $644,000 fine to British authorities for breaches of data protection law related to the harvesting of data by consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica. Regulators said that data from at least 1 million British users — and 87 million users worldwide — were harvested and used for political purposes. Gormsen is a senior research fellow in competition law at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. In 2019, she co-authored an academic paper entitled “Facebook’s Anticompetitive Lean in Strategies.” Last year, she helped write a paper titled “Facebook’s Exploitative and Exclusionary Abuses in the Two-Sided Market for Social Networks and Display Advertising.”

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