DISCLAIMER: Viral Thread would like to apologize for the incorrect information featured in the original version of this article, published on April 3, 2018. Upon further research, the claims stated within the article (originally stated in The Sun) were discovered to be false.
In short, the notion that Facebook users could claim damages from the social network over the Cambridge Analytica controversy was a highly speculative one that was specific to UK users only and posited £12,500 (US $17,500) as a theoretical maximum, rather than a probable payment.
Social media has forever changed the way we interact with our friends, family, and acquaintances. Chances are, your day begins and ends with a scroll through Facebook.
But while the various social networking sites in existence, such as Twitter and Facebook, play a huge role in our everyday lives, they can also pose substantial risks to our overall privacy.
Recently, it came to light that Cambridge Analytica illegally used personal information from over 50 million Facebook users to target American voters with personalized political ads during the 2016 election.
This is what the former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon had to say about Cambridge Analytica:
Why is Facebook implicated in this? Well, it’s mostly because they had known the data analytics firm was using people’s personal data since 2015, but only decided to suspend them earlier this month.
Before this, Cambridge Analytica harvested users’ data from Facebook, and, as a result, it is highly likely that users of the social networking site had their private information looked into illegally.
In an interview with CNN, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg apologized for this “breach of trust”.
He also took to his account to issue an apology, in which he promised that the company would go to great lengths to redeem themselves.
“This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry. We have a basic responsibility to protect people’s data and if we can’t do that, we don’t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people. Our responsibility now is to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.
I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform. I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community.
While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past.
We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward. I want to thank all of you who continue to believe in our mission and work to build this community together.
I know it takes longer to fix all these issues than we’d like, but I promise you we’ll work through this and build a better service over the long term.”
One lawyer has claimed that those who had their data harvested could be eligible for receiving a huge amount of cash. Maureen Mapp, a law professor, said Facebook could be slapped with a bill of approximately £625 billion.
According to Dr. Mapp, about 50 million people had their data harvested by Cambridge Analytics, and she claims they could be entitled to a large sum of money in damages.
“There are about 50 million users whose data was harvested,” Dr. Mapp told The Sun. “Assuming each one of them brought a claim for compensation for distress caused by the “data breach”… each individual may be awarded £12,500 as damages.”
However, it must be noted that the interview Dr. Mapp gave to The Sun was highly speculative and applies only to Facebook users in the UK. These users could – although it is highly unlikely – be entitled to damages under the Data Protection Act 1998.
There is actually no official or legitimate basis for the notion that users would be entitled to £12,500 before anyone starts getting their hopes up!
Facebook may be worth a whopping £317 billion, but if this unlikely situation occurs it could cause serious problems for the company.
Also, David Barda, a data protection lawyer, has estimated that the amount would be a lot less than the amount estimated by Dr. Mapp. “I think a much more realistic figure is £500 per claimant,” he said. “The amount of compensation will depend on the level of distress suffered, but Facebook could be facing claims of up to £500 per Facebook user if those users were able to demonstrate their distress.”
So it looks like Facebook is still in hot water with the public. And although the prospect of a hefty sum of money to add to our bank balance would be great, the lawyers’ claims are certainly no indications that such a plan is underway.