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Does Facebook owe you £50 compensation?

Written by: Emma Lunn
Facebook’s owner Meta faces a £2.3bn class action over the company’s historic data collection practices.

Competition law expert Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen has launched the class action lawsuit at the Competition Appeal Tribunal. The claim accuses the technology giant of abusing its market dominance, and is seeking a minimum of £2.3bn in damages – worth about £50 to each of 44 million Facebook users in the UK who used the site in the claim period of October 2015 to December 2019.

The lawsuit claims the social networking site used its market dominance to impose “unfair terms and conditions” on its users,  allowing it to generate billions in revenue from their data. 

Lawyers working on the case say that by exploiting users’ data, both within the Facebook platform and off-platform through mechanisms like the Facebook Pixel, the company was able to build very detailed pictures of users’ internet usage. By using “deep data profiles” of its users, the company generated excessive profits.

In the UK, competition laws exist to prevent corporations in positions of market dominance from abusing their power through exploitation of their customers.

The case will argue that Facebook set an “unfair price’” for its UK users. The “price” set for gaining access to the social network was the surrender of UK users’ highly valuable personal data on a take it or leave it basis for using the social media site.

In return, users only received “free” access to Facebook’s social network, and zero monetary recompense whilst Facebook generated billions in revenues from its users’ data. Lawyers say this “unfair deal” was only possible due to Facebook’s market dominance.

Dr Lovdahl Gormsen said: “In a free and fair market, competition should lead to lower prices and increased quality. But the bigger a company is in the market, the less choice we have, no matter what else they’re doing. Facebook has exploited its dominance at its users’ cost.”

Dr Gormsen’s lawyers, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, have written to Meta to notify it of the claim. This landmark class action, brought under the Competition Act, will be the first of its kind against Meta in the UK. 

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