Starting with a bug in 2013, social media platform Facebook has a history of data leaks, with the last data breach reported in 2021 when 50 crore users were left exposed. But the worst damage was done in 2014-15 when Cambridge Analytica accessed private data of five crore users, and used it to boost Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Facebook has already agreed to pay $725 million as penalty for the violation of privacy, but a judge has slapped it with another $1 million fine for gaslighting victims and the court.
The district court judge Vince Chhabria found Facebook guilty of creating obstacles for users who had filed a complaint against it, to pressurise them into settling for a lower compensation. The social media giant was pulled up for delaying the trial, holding back evidence, and also refusing to reveal the same user data which it had shared with other firms without consent. Although he found that the practice is common in US court proceedings, Chhabria added that Facebook's campaign was unusually persistent.
He pointed out that after all of that, Facebook's lawyer went on to claim that the plaintiffs were delaying proceedings, wich is clearly gaslighting. Chhabria mentioned that Facebook had been doing this since 2018, when ex-Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie revealed how data of 87 million users had been harvested to help Trump win the 2016 polls.
Apart from Trump, Ted Cruz had also paid $5 million to Cambridge Analytica for insights based on private data. Alongside Facebook, its legal representative Gibson Dunn will also have to bear the burden of the $1 million penalty. The firm's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also been grilled by the EU and US Congress over data leaks at the social media platform.
After a slump in ad revenue and loss of users for the first time since its inception, the stock prices of Facebook's parent firm Meta crashed by 65 per cent in 2022. The concerns about data privacy could hit Facebook's dwindling userbase further.
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