Facebook Denies Being a Social Network in Lawsuit Response
As Ars Technica reports, the lawsuit was filed in December last year by District of Columbia (DC) attorney general Karl Racine. It stated that of the 70 million individuals who had personal information taken by Cambridge Analytica, 340,000 were residents of DC. Racine is demanding $5,000 in civil penalties per resident, which would mean Facebook has to pay out $1.7 billion.
As you'd expect, the social network is fighting the case hard. The reason it has taken so long for a response to be forthcoming is because Facebook spent nearly seven months attempting to get the lawsuit dismissed. That isn't happening thanks to a federal judge.
Facebook's response is heavy on the denials, with a "denies the allegations" being stated for most of the 76 paragraphs contained in the lawsuit filing. Curiously, one flat out denial covers Paragraph 11, which states:
To begin using the Facebook website, a consumer first 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 sure that's the functionality Facebook's entire business model is based upon, which makes this a suspicious and confusing response. Is this a lawyer that's being a bit heavy handed with copy-pasting a denial, or some tactic in law to try and derail the lawsuit?
Overall, Facebook's defense against this lawsuit comes down to the fact it was a third-party and not Facebook directly that improperly obtained personal data. If that isn't accepted by the court, then the social network (yes, it is one) may have to pay out billions, especially as this lawsuit is surely only going to be the first of many if it proves successful.