The lawsuit focused initially on Facebook's alleged complicity in political skullduggery, then expanded into a wider probe of how Facebook monetizes its operations by selling the personal data of unwitting users. Facebook denied culpability then and now, even while agreeing to pay what amounts to the biggest breach-of-privacy fine in the history of Big Tech.
“We pursued a settlement as it’s in the best interest of our community and shareholders. Over the last three years we revamped our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy program,” a Meta spokesperson told CNBC.
Having watched this case and written about it for years, I remain skeptical that major changes have indeed occurred. I'm likewise dubious about the broader impact of the case on the social media industry. Will it have a salutory effect? Probably not. The racket is so lucrative, something like this will feel like just a speed bump. Consider that Facebook currently is valued at about $245 billion. It can pay the occasional speeding ticket.
The greater threat which this affair poses for the company is a potential loss of user trust. Will Facebook users begin to wonder what it really costs for them to use this "free" service?