UK class action lodged against Meta seeks $3.1Bn for breach of competition law

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A competition legal expert, backed by a powerful litigation fund, aims to mount a multi-billion class action against Facebook/Meta for competition law violations on the grounds that it has eroded its dominance of social networking in the UK for many years. misused. If the action is successful, Facebook will have to pay $3.1 billion (£2.3 billion) in damages to UK users.

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A billion-pound class action lawsuit against Facebook’s parent company Meta was filed yesterday at the UK’s Competition Appeals Tribunal in London.

Unusual Views claims that Facebook should pay compensation to its 44 million UK users for the exploitation of their data between 2015 and 2019. This is effectively saying that Facebook took all the personal and private data of its users – which no one else had because of Facebook’s dominance. The viable social platform – and in return all of its users – got the ability to post pictures of babies and kittens to their friends and families, in fact.

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The action is being taken by international competition law expert Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen (pictured), who has given presentations before the UK Parliament on Facebook’s market dominance, as well as wrote academic legal papers about this.

Lovdahl Gormsen’s case hinges on the idea that Facebook (recently renamed Meta) has set an ‘unfair price’ for UK Facebook users.

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The “price” set for granting access to the social network was the surrender of highly valuable personal data of UK users, who in turn received “free” access to Facebook’s social networking platform, no financial compensation, and all that while Facebook generated billions in revenue.

Key to the logic of the case is that Facebook has protected its UK users by not only locking them and their data into its platform, but also by tracking them on other websites via the Facebook pixel, thus creating a “deeper” social graph. “Generated data. the user.

Germain, according to Dr. Lovdahl Gormsen’s argument, is that user profiles repeatedly re-emerged in controversies, such as during the Cambridge Analytica scandal, further clarifying their market exploitation.

Lawyers for Lovdahl Gormsen, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, LLP, have written to Meta to inform them of the claim. Dr Lovdahl Gormsen will represent the section of people affected – i.e. all people living in the UK who have used Facebook at least once during 1 October 2015 – 31 December 2019.

The ‘opt-out’ class action is the first of its kind against Meta in England and Wales. As for the opt-out case, Facebook’s 4 million UK users will not need to be actively involved in the case to seek damages, but they will not be required to make a claim unless they decide to opt-out of it. will be part of.

Financial support for the case is coming from Innsworth, one of the world’s largest litigants. Quinn Emanuel and Innsworth have a past history in bringing consumer class action claims like this.

The broader context of this is that Meta is also facing consumer class action in the US, regulatory action around the world, and an antitrust suit from the FTC in the US that could separate it from the Instagram and WhatsApp platforms.

In a statement, Dr. Lovdahl Gormsen said: “In the 17 years it was created, Facebook has become the only social network in the UK where you can be sure to connect with friends and family in one place. Still, Facebook has an inkling of its own.” The party was; it abused its market dominance to impose unfair terms and conditions on ordinary Britons and gave it the power to exploit their personal data. I’ll take this case to secure billions of pounds in damages for those 44 million Britons. For those whose data was exploited by Facebook.”

Speaking to me on a call, I asked Dr. Lovdahl Gormsen if Facebook could argue that other social networks like Twitter or MySpace were available?

“I don’t think people can connect with their family and friends in the same way on Twitter and Snapchat and all these other places. Facebook is quite unique in the way they are doing it,” she said.

This action is also based on the ubiquity of the Facebook pixel on other websites. I asked what is its significance in the matter?

“Imagine yourself as a Facebook user,” said Dr. Lovdahl Gormsen. “You may be aware that your data will be used by Facebook.com. But what the pixels are doing when you access a third party website, of course it has nothing to do with Facebook. That means That Facebook has built many, many, many more data points on you than you actually knew you signed up for.”

They argue that although it is possible for a user to remove themselves from Facebook’s platform, deep down in the settings, in practice most users do not know how or even know how to do this. this can be done.

Lövdahl Gormsen is a Senior Research Fellow at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), director of the Competition Law Forum, a non-governmental advisor to the International Competition Network, and sits on the journal’s advisory board. Antitrust Enforcement (OUP).

Nerdshala reached out to Facebook for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

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