South Carolina woman files class-action suit in Facebook, Cambridge data breach

By Amanda Thomas | Apr 14, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — A South Carolina woman has sued Facebook and a data analytics firm over the firm's gathering of private data from up to 87 million people through the social network. 

The lawsuit, filed April 5 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleges Facebook and Cambridge Analytica violated California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL). It requests “monetary relief” paid to Taylor Picha and, as a proposed class action, to others similarly affected. If the court certifies the case as a class action, other Facebook users could join the suit.  

Facebook publicly stated on April 4 that information from up to 87 million people might have been shared with Cambridge Analytica in 2015. The suit referenced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's saying "I think we got that wrong" regarding the company waiting so long to inform its users of what happened. 

"This class action lawsuit is about the 'wrong' Zuckerberg has admitted," the complaint said.

On March 17, The Guardian and The New York Times published articles on the data breach. The articles revealed that Cambridge Analytica was hired by the Trump campaign to target voters online and used the data of 87 million Facebook users without proper disclosures or permission. The data, which was collected through a survey app called "ThisIsYourDigitalLife," was not only harvested from those taking the survey, but also their friends.

Picha, a Charleston County resident and Facebook user since 2007, recalls frequently seeing ads for the Trump campaign during the 2016 Presidential election.

"Although Facebook knew about the misuse of 87 million users' data in 2015, it chose to hide this information from its users until forced to confront the issue on March 17,” the suit said. 

The suit alleges "Facebook knew improper data aggregation was occurring and failed to stop it." It also noted, “The privacy and personal, sensitive information of 87 million people is now at high risk for identity theft and compromise, and will continue to be at risk as a direct result of the acts of the Defendants.” 

The suit was filed by attorneys from Morris Sullivan & Lemkul LPP in San Diego and Motley Rice LLC in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina on behalf of the plaintiffs.

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