Meta Platforms, Inc. reached a $37.5 million settlement in a lawsuit that alleged Facebook violated user privacy. The case accused Facebook of tracking the location of its users through their mobile devices without permission. The settlement was filed on Monday in San Francisco federal court and is currently pending approval from a judge, Reuters reported.
The lawsuit claimed that the company tracked movements even after users had turned off Location Services on their smartphones. Instead of using Location Services to track users, Facebook used IP addresses. With this information, the platform was able to send users targeted advertising.
Location tracking without the consent of the user violates both Facebook policy and California law.
While Meta agreed to the settlement, it denied wrongdoing. The case began in 2018 and included users in the United States who used Facebook after January 30, 2015.
In 2011, Facebook Inc. was sued for tracking the website activity of its users. The company admitted to using cookies that remained even after a user had logged out, CNET reported.
Facebook and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told the U.S. Congress in 2018 that the company tracked the location of its users “to help advertisers reach people in particular areas.” However, the statement also said that users are asked when joining Facebook if they consent to their location data being stored by the platform.
The statement read, “Location-related information can be based on things like precise device location (if a user has allowed us to collect it), IP addresses, and information from their and others’ use of Facebook Products (such as check-ins or events they attend). We store data until it is no longer necessary to provide our services and Facebook Products, or until a person’s account is deleted—whichever comes first.”
Last year, Facebook was accused by some users of storing scans of their faces without permission. The accusations violated Illinois’ biometric laws. In that lawsuit, Facebook settled for $650 million resulting in 1.6 million users receiving $397 each.
Another class action lawsuit filed against Facebook this year is awaiting settlement approval. The case accused the company of tracking user activity across other platforms. If it is approved on October 27, Facebook will pay $90 million in damages.
Reuters reported that Meta could not be reached for comment regarding the latest pending $37.5 million settlement.