With three billion active users in December 2022, Meta-owned Facebook ranked third among the most visited websites globally.

Facebook has been the subject of controversies since its inception and has increasingly fallen foul of issues such as user privacy and political manipulation.

Facebook has also been subject to criticism over fake news, conspiracy theories, copyright infringement, and hate speech. 

With regulatory bodies and lawmakers seeking to crack down on Big Tech’s monopolistic tendencies, through the EU’s Digital Services Act and the US’s recent requirement of internal and external testing for AI products, Facebook has come under fire internationally in recent months.

As Facebook wraps up a $725m privacy lawsuit settlement, alleging it allowed Cambridge Analytica to access about 87 million users’ personal information during President Trump’s 2016 electoral campaign, Verdict takes a closer look at Facebook’s recent legal woes.

Norway imposes $94,313 daily fine

In September 2023, a Norwegian court ruled against an injunction by Facebook to halt the daily fine imposed on the company by the country’s data regulator.

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Facebook had previously asked for a temporary injunction against a 14 August order which has seen the company pay Nkr1m ($94,313) per day for breaching user privacy.

Norwegian regulator Datatilsynet imposed the fine against Facebook for using behavioural advertising, a model which harvests user data to tailor advertising.

Kenyan court orders mediation on $1.6bn moderation lawsuit

In August 2023, a Kenyan court gave 21 days to resolve a dispute out of court with 184 content moderators who are suing for unfair dismissal, seeking $1.6bn in compensation.

The moderators claim they lost their jobs at Sama, a third-party contracted by Facebook, for unionising. The workers claim they were then blacklisted from roles at a second Facebook-contracted firm, Majorel.

A similar case in the US saw Facebook pay moderators $52m for psychological damages in 2020. The lawsuit, which was filed in 2018, alleged that Facebook did not protect them against psychological damage from exposure to graphic material.

Malaysia plans legal action

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission released a statement in July 2023 announcing its plans to pursue legal action against Facebook.

The Commission claims that Facebook failed to remove ‘undesirable’ posts and that the site is beset with defamatory posts, impersonation and false advertising.

Australia fines Meta $14m

An Australian court ordered Meta Platforms to pay $14m (A$9m) in fines for not disclosing its data collection through a data ‘privacy’ app Onavo in July 2023.

The app claimed to offer a means to protect user privacy, yet Meta collected user data from Onavo – without disclosing its practices to customers.

The suit, which was brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), puts an end to one faction of Meta’s legal troubles in Australia related to its use of data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 US election.

Meta is still facing a civil court action by Australia’s Office of the Information Commissioner over its alleged collaboration with Cambridge Analytica.

European DCP imposes a record $1.3bn fine

Meta was hit with a record $1.3bn (€1.2bn) fine in May 2023 by the Data Protection Commissioner (DCP), headquartered in Ireland, over EU-US data transfer pact violations relating to its transferal of EU data to the US.

Rohingya sue Facebook for £150bn over

In 2021, legal action was launched by Rohingya in the US and the UK which alleged that Facebook’s negligent content moderation practices facilitated the Rohingya Muslim genocide in Myanmar by boosting hate speech and failing to remove harmful posts.

Facebook admitted in 2018 that the platform was used to incite hatred against the Rohingya. The social media giant said in a blog post that it had failed to prevent the platform from being used to “foment division and incite offline violence.”