Facebook User Sues Over Personal Data Release to Cambridge Analytica

A Facebook Inc. user sued the social network and a data research firm that played a role in the election of President Donald Trump alleging that her privacy was violated when information on some 50 million users was improperly disclosed.

Lauren Price, of Maryland, sued the companies in San Jose, California, federal court on behalf of other U.S. Facebook users whose data Cambridge Analytica obtained.

The lawsuit is the latest development in a wave of backlash against the social media company over ways in which its platform was used to influence the 2016 election. Revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s access to information on the users follows on heels of controversies over the proliferation of “fake news” and Russian propaganda through the site.

“This case involves the absolute disregard with which defendants have chosen to treat plaintiff’s personal information,” lawyers for Price said in her complaint. “Facebook, for its part, knew this improper data aggregation was occurring and failed to stop it, or actively avoided discovering such knowledge in order to profess supposed ignorance.”

Price sued Tuesday, not long after another lawsuit was filed on behalf of Facebook investors seeking to recoup losses suffered when the stock price fell on reports of the research firm’s use of the data.

Price seeks damages for all U.S. Facebook users whose information was harvested without authorization, and asserts claims of negligence and violations of California unfair competition laws.

Quiz Participants

Facebook said on Friday that Aleksandr Kogan, a Soviet-born researcher, asked people to take a personality quiz that he claimed was for academic purposes. He collected data from about 270,000 quiz participants as well as all the friends in their social circle and turned the information over to Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica denied on Saturday that it still had access to the data but Facebook said Friday it learned the information wasn’t erased. The research firm used the data to create tools and techniques that were put to use in the 2016 election campaign, according to the New York Times.

Facebook spokeswoman Genevieve Grdina declined to immediately comment on the user’s lawsuit.

The case is Price v. Facebook, 18-cv-01732, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

Copyright 2018 Bloomberg.

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