Facebook and its outside law firm were ordered to pay almost $1 million in sanctions for deceitfully denying that it shared users’ private information with third parties without permission.
The fine is “loose change” for Facebook and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, US District Judge Vince Chhabria wrote in an order. But the San Francisco judge said he hopes it will induce the company and its lawyers “to behave more honorably moving forward.”
Thursday’s $925,078.51 penalty stems from a lawsuit in which Meta Platforms Inc. agreed to pay a record-setting $725 million to settle a 2018 lawsuit that claimed Facebook illegally shared user data with the research firm Cambridge Analytica. According to Chhabria, Facebook relied on “delay, misdirection, and frivolous arguments” to make the litigation unfairly difficult and expensive. Much of the behavior Chhabria pointed to involved withholding information that under the rules of litigation it clearly had to turn over.
“Perhaps realizing they had no real argument for withholding these documents, Facebook and Gibson Dunn contorted various statements” of opposing lawyers and the court “beyond recognition,” Chhabria wrote. “And again, after being told repeatedly that these arguments made no sense, Facebook and Gibson Dunn insisted on pressing them.”
Representatives of Meta and Gibson Dunn didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The case is In Re Facebook Consumer Privacy User Profile Litigation, 18-MD-02843, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
Photo: Photographer: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg
Related: Meta’s Facebook Agrees to Settle Cambridge Analytica Suit | Facebook Parent Meta to Settle Cambridge Analytica Scandal Case for $725M
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