A competition legal expert, backed by a very powerful litigation fund, is set to mount a multibillion- pounds class action suit against Meta/Facebook for breach of competition law on the basis that it abused its dominance of social networking in the U.K. for several years. If successful, the action would see Facebook having to pay £2.3 billion ($3.1 billion) in damages to Meta U.K. users.
The class action lawsuit was lodged against Facebook’s parent company, Meta, yesterday with the U.K.’s Competition Appeal Tribunal in London. The unusual approach claims Facebook should pay its 44 million U.K. users compensation for the exploitation of their data between 2015 and effectively. Also it says Facebook took all the personal and private data of its users who, due to Facebook’s dominance, had no other viable social platform and in return all its users got, in effect, was the ability to post pictures of babies and kittens to their friends and families. The action is being mounted by international competition law expert Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen and she made submissions before the U.K.’s Parliament regarding Facebook’s market dominance, as well as written academic legal papers about it. Her case rests on the idea that Meta set an “unfair price” for U.K. Facebook users.
The “price” set for granting access to the social network was the surrender of U.K. users’ highly valuable personal data, who in return simply got “free” access to Facebook’s social networking platform, no financial compensation, all while Facebook generated billions in revenues. Key to the case’s argument is that Facebook “surrounded” its U.K. users not just by locking them and their data into the platform, but also by tracking them via the Facebook pixel, on other websites, thus generating deep “social graph” data about its users.
In a statement, she stated, “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. 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. I’m launching this case to secure billions of pounds of damages for the 44 million Britons who had their data exploited by Facebook.”.
Dr Lovdahl Gormsen said, “Imagine yourself as a Facebook user, you may be aware that your data will be used by Facebook.com. But what the pixels are doing is when you use a third-party website, that of course has nothing to do with Facebook. That means Facebook has created many, many more data points on you that you actually knew you’d signed up to.”
Dr Lovdahl Gormsen argues that although it’s possible for a user to remove themselves from Facebook’s platform, deep down in the settings, in practice the vast majority of users have no idea how to do this or even know it’s possible.