Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has recently been sued in the UK in an unprecedented class action, accused of abusing its market dominance and exploiting its users’ data without consent.
Competition law expert Dr. Liza Lovdahl Gormsen leads the lawsuit against the social media giant. The renowned lawyer announced the lawsuit against Meta on her Twitter account on Friday, Jan. 14, on behalf of all affected Facebook users.
“I am launching a major class-action claim against Meta for abusing its market dominance for a minimum of £2.3 billion damages on behalf of affected UK Facebook users,” the post reads.
She also added a link directing to a web page where detailed information about the lawsuit can be accessed in her Twitter message.
In the webpage message, Gormsen warns that Facebook is the most widely used social network in the UK but has a dark side, “it is alleged to have abused its market dominance to impose unfair terms and conditions on ordinary Britons giving it the power to exploit their personal data,” the lawyer writes.
The lawsuit states that these abuses may have harmed as many as 44 million UK Facebook users.
The accusation is based on Meta allegedly violating the Competition Act 1998 by setting an “unfair price” for Facebook users in the UK when given access to the service, The Guardian reported. This “hidden” price sells users’ data to other companies without allowing them to share in the profit, which generates Meta’s most significant source of revenue.
Globally, 98% of Meta’s revenue is derived from its advertisers, who benefit from targeting specific demographics and consumers that Meta has created based on user profiles and online activity.
“They are exploiting users by taking their personal data without adequately compensating them for taking that data,” said Lovdahl Gormsen, who added that Facebook has a “completely disproportionate” relationship with its users.
According to the complaint, the terms and conditions that people agree to when they create a new user do not clarify, or most of them do not understand it.
The lawsuit, which the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London will hear, argues that Facebook—by setting an “unfair price” for its 44 million affected users in the UK—should pay them compensation for exploiting their data between 2015 and 2019.
While users handed over all their data to the company, they in return only received “free” access to the platform and no monetary reward “while Facebook generated billions in revenue from the data.” The lawsuit concludes that this unfair treatment was only possible thanks to Facebook’s market dominance.