U.S. judge refuses to dismiss case against Facebook

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Facebook is in the news yet again, after a U.S. judge denied a request by Facebook Inc. to dismiss a lawsuit by Washington D.C. Attorney General, Karl A. Racine, over the company's improper sharing of 87 million users' data with former political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook was sued by the U.S. capital city in December 2018, accusing it of deliberately misleading users, when it knew about the breach for two years before disclosing it. The social media giant also allowed third-party app makers to access users' personal information without their consent.

Presiding over the case last Friday, Judge Fern Flanagan Saddler signed the order denying Facebook's motion to dismiss, or alternatively, stay proceedings, the court said in statement on its website, according to news agency, Reuters.

Second legal blow for Facebook

This is the second legal blow for Facebook, after a judge in Delaware ordered it to hand over emails and other records concerning its handling of data privacy, also linked to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to shareholders.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the decision.

Cambridge Analytica, the firm hired by President Trump's 2016 election campaign, used a personality quiz distributed on Facebook aimed at gathering profile information to influence voters' behavior.

The consulting firm ceased trading after the breach was disclosed. A number of U.S. and European regulatory probes into Facebook followed, including investigations by multiple state attorneys general.

The court could award unspecified damages and impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation of the district's consumer protection law, or potentially close to $1.7 billion, if penalized for each consumer affected.

The lawsuit alleges the firm held data on 340,000 Washington D.C. residents, even though just 852 users had directly engaged with the quiz software.

Sources & credits: Reuters

Peter BornerComment