SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook’s corporate parent has reached a tentative settlement in a lawsuit alleging the world’s largest social network service allowed millions of its users’ personal information to be fed to Cambridge Analytica, a firm that supported Donald Trump’s victorious presidential campaign in 2016.
Terms of the settlement reached by Meta Platforms, the holding company for Facebook and Instagram, weren’t disclosed in court documents filed late Friday. The filing in San Francisco federal court requested a 60-day stay of the action while lawyers finalize the settlement. That timeline suggested further details could be disclosed by late October.
The accord was reached just a few weeks before a Sept. 20 deadline for Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his long-time chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, to submit to depositions during the final phases of pre-trial evidence gathering, according to court documents.
Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook in 2004 as a Harvard University student, could have been deposed for up to six hours. Sandberg, who is stepping down as chief operating officer after a 14-year stint, could have been questioned for up to five hours.
The case sprang from 2018 revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a firm with ties to Trump political strategist Stephen Bannon, had paid a Facebook app developer for access to the personal information of about 87 million Facebook users. That data was then used to target U.S. voters during the 2016 campaign that culminated in Trump’s election as the 45th president.
The ensuring uproar led to a contrite Zuckerberg being grilled by lawmakers during a high-profile congressional hearing and spurred calls for people to delete their Facebook accounts. Even though Facebook’s growth has stalled as more people connect and entertain themselves on rival services such as TikTok, the social network still boasts about 2 billion users worldwide, including nearly 200 million in the U.S. and Canada.
The lawsuit, which had been seeking to be certified as a class action representing Facebook users, had asserted the privacy breach proved Facebook is a “data broker and surveillance firm,” as well as a social network.