Lawsuit adds to Facebook woes on data protection

Facebook’s woes mounted Wednesday as it faced a lawsuit alleging privacy violations related to data leaked to a consultancy working on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and as a new report suggested it shared more data with partners than it has acknowledged.

Facebook shares already sagging under the weight of the social network’s troubles ended the trading day down 7.25 per cent to $133.24 and slipped even lower in after-market trades.

The suit filed by the attorney general for the US capital Washington is likely the first by an official US body that could impose consequences on the world’s leading social network for data misuse.

“Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them about who had access to their data and how it was used,” said Attorney General Karl Racine in a statement.

“Facebook put users at risk of manipulation by allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica and other third-party applications to collect personal data without users’ permission.”

The suit filed in Superior Court in Washington seeks an injunction to make sure Facebook puts in place safeguards to monitor users’ data and makes it easier for users to control privacy settings, and demands restitution for consumers.

Facebook said it was reviewing the complaint and looked forward to continuing discussions with attorneys general in DC “and elsewhere.”

The social network has admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, which shut down weeks after the news emerged on its handling of private user information.

A whistle-blower at the consultancy, which worked on Trump’s presidential campaign, said it used Facebook data to develop profiles of users who were targeted with personalised messages that could have played on their fears.