This week, Facebook responded to a lawsuit with reference to the Cambridge Analytica scandal by claiming it isn’t a social network and not somewhere you can make friends.
As Ars Technica reports, the lawsuit was filed in December last year by District of Columbia (DC) attorney general Karl Racine. It expressed that of the 70 million people who had personal data taken by Cambridge Analytica, 340,000 were residents of DC. Racine is demanding $5,000 in civil penalties per resident, which would mean Facebook needs to pay out $1.7 billion.
As you’d expect, the social network is fighting the case hard. the reason it’s taken so long for a response to be forthcoming is as a result of Facebook spent nearly seven months trying to get the lawsuit dismissed. That isn’t happening due to a federal judge.
Facebook’s response is serious on the denials, with a “denies the allegations” being stated for most of the 76paragraphs contained in the lawsuit filing. Curiously, one all out denial covers Paragraph 11, which states:
To begin using the Facebook website, a client initially creates a Facebook account. The consumer can then add other Facebook consumers as “friends” and by accumulating Facebook friends, the consumer builds a social network on the Facebook website.
So Facebook is denying it’s a destination that allows consumers to sign-up, add their friends, and build a social network. I’m pretty positive that’s the functionality Facebook’s entire business model relies upon, which makes this a suspicious and confusing response. is this a lawyer that’s being a bit seriously handed with copy-pasting a denial, or some tactic in law to try and derail the lawsuit?
Overall, Facebook’s defense against this case comes right down to the actual fact it absolutely was a third-party and not Facebook directly that improperly obtained personal information. If that isn’t accepted by the court, then the social network (yes, it’s one) might need to pay out billions, particularly as this case is definitely only getting to be the first of many if it proves successful.