International competition law expert Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen has launched a major class-action claim against Meta for abusing its market dominance for a minimum of £2.1 billion damages on behalf of affected UK Facebook users.
A CPO Application Hearing took place from 8-9 January 2024, to decide whether this case should progress despite objections raised by Meta. The Tribunal released its judgment on 15 February 2024, certifying the claim and authorising Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen as the Class Representative. This claim is now proceeding to a full trial. The judgment can be read in full here.
FACEBOOK USERS IN THE UK AFFECTED
PLUS INTEREST, MINIMUM DAMAGES SOUGHT
CLAIM PERIOD COVERED FOR REDRESS
Facebook is by far the largest social network in the UK. Yet, there was a dark side to Facebook’s ubiquity: 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 outside of Facebook. As many as 46 million UK Facebook users may have been subject to this abuse by Facebook.
By exploiting users’ data outside of Facebook, both on other Meta-owned apps like Instagram, as well as on third-party websites and apps, the company was able to build very detailed pictures of users’ internet usage. By collecting and building these deep data profiles of its users, the company imposed an unfair bargain on users and generated excessive profits.
Facebook abused its market dominance to strike an unfair bargain with users, imposing terms and conditions on a take it or leave basis to access to its social network in exchange for users' highly valuable personal data, and zero monetary recompense.
In the UK, competition laws exist to prevent corporations in positions of market dominance from abusing their power through exploitation of their customers.
Our case argues that Facebook set an “unfair price’” for its UK users. The “price” set for gaining access to the social network was the surrender of UK users’ highly valuable personal data on a take it or leave it basis for using the network.
In return, users only received “free” access to Facebook’s social network, and zero monetary recompense whilst Facebook generated billions in revenues from its users’ data. This unfair deal was only possible due to Facebook’s market dominance.
Facebook’s intrusive user data profiles became a hugely valuable private asset from which the company obtained excessive profits. In return, we received too little.
"In a free and fair market, competition should lead to lower prices and increased quality. But the bigger a company is in the market, the less choice we have, no matter what else they’re doing. Facebook has exploited its dominance at its users’ cost."
- Dr Lovdahl Gormsen
Dr Lovdahl Gormsen's lawyers, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, have filed a claim with the Competition Appeal Tribunal. Quinn Emanuel has a strong track record in bringing consumer claims of this kind.
This landmark class action, brought under the Competition Act, is the first of its kind against Meta in the UK. The action is backed by some of Britain’s most prominent competition lawyers, barristers and economists and aims to secure a minimum of £2.1 billion, plus interest, in damages against Meta.
Dr Lovdahl Gormsen is leading this action on behalf of all affected UK Facebook users because she believes that Meta should compensate its users for its anti-competitive behaviour during the claim period.
The scale of Facebook’s user base means that the most effective method for consumers to receive redress is through an opt-out collective action in the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal.
Learn more about the representative action against Facebook (now Meta), and receive more news and information around the claim’s progress.
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You can read all the FAQs for the case here
Dr Lovdahl Gormsen alleges that the tech giant abused its market dominance by imposing an unfair bargain UK users to exploit their off-Facebook personal data.
Since it was created in 2004, Facebook has become the biggest online social network and/or social media platform in the world, used by over two billion people every day.
However, Facebook abused its dominant position by imposing unfair terms and conditions on users. In order to access Facebook, users were required to give Facebook access to their highly valuable personal data outside of Facebook. In return users only received “free” access to Facebook’s social network, and zero monetary recompense whilst Facebook generated billions in revenues from its users’ data. This unfair deal was only possible due to Facebook’s market dominance.
This multi-billion collective action for breach of competition law has been filed against Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of the Meta group and other relevant entities in the Meta group, including Facebook UK Limited and Meta Platforms Ireland Limited.
All UK-domiciled individuals who used Facebook between 2016 and the date of final judgment or earlier settlement of the present proposed collective proceedings, in that they had a Facebook account and accessed that account at least once between 2016 and the present date while in the UK.