The Cambridge Analytica scandal has not only eroded confidence in the world’s most popular social network; it has also opened a can of worms that could keep Facebook’s legal team busy for years.
In California, four civil lawsuits were filed against Facebook during the last week of March; furthermore, attorneys representing Cook County in Illinois filed a lawsuit on behalf of Chicago residents whose protections under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act were allegedly ignored when the social network gave data access to Cambridge Analytica.
Although the various lawsuits piling up against Facebook present a diversity of civil complaints, a common theme in the filings is that the social network failed t to protect user data in accordance to its Terms of Service.
Meanwhile, agents from the Information Commissioner’s Office of the United Kingdom executed a search warrant at the corporate offices of Cambridge Analytica in London. Legal analysts believe that the raid could produce documents that United States Special Counsel Robert Mueller will probably find of interest as they may relate to the ongoing investigation into the political campaign that elected President Donald Trump. The work of Cambridge Analytica is believed to have been instrumental in the election of Donald Trump as well as in the Brexit referendum.
The legal issues that Facebook will likely face in the next few months were caused by an app developed by Cambridge Analytica under the guise of academic research. A Russian American developer created a Facebook app that essentially consists of a fun quiz; what users did not know is that their social media data was being harvested along with the data of individuals within their social circles. The data was later cross-referenced with consumer data records to create voter profiles that could be targeted with false news reports.
In the Cook County lawsuit, Facebook could face fines as high as $10,000 per each individual violation of the aforementioned Illinois state law. Similar lawsuits by state attorney generals across the U.S. could be forthcoming.