Why Facebook is being sued for billions over photo tagging

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 17 April, 2018, 10:53

After a great deal of controversy in recent weeks, Facebook is back in the headlines and facing court over its use of facial recognition technology.

The case references the social media giant's 'tag suggestions' function, which identifies the faces of your Facebook friends in photographs uploaded to the platform.

Gathering biometric data without consent

A judge in California has ruled that the company must face a class action lawsuit which alleges that Facebook gathered biometric information without the explicit consent of their users.

While the lawsuit claims that this violates Illinois state law, Facebook maintains that no laws have been broken and have stated that they will fight the case.

Facebook users recently found out if their data was shared with Cambridge Analytica (Photo: Shutterstock)

Users in Illinois could get compensation

Interestingly, the lawsuit does not relate to all Facebook users, but only a portion of them - specifically account holders "in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011".

If the class action suit is successful, any person in this group could be entitled to compensation.

According to a comment in US District Judge James Donato's court order regarding the lawsuit, Facebook has hinted that it could potentially find itself paying out billions of dollars in statutory damages.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal

This is not the first time that Facebook has been accused of illegally collecting user data. Just days ago, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was questioned vigorously by US senators over the company's practices.

We share so many of our precious moments on Facebook via photos and videos (Photo: Shutterstock)

The scrutiny came after Facebook admitted as many as 87 million people may have had their data accessed in the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. It is believed around one million of these users are UK-based.

Some Facebook users in Illinois could receive compensation over the company's use of facial recognition software (Photo: Shutterstock)

Cambridge Analytica (a data-mining firm affiliated with President Donald Trump’s campaign) has been accused of using ill-gotten data from Facebook users to try to influence elections.