UK FACEBOOK USERS MAY BE OWED BILLIONS FOR FACEBOOK’S ANTI-COMPETITIVE BEHAVIOUR IN GROUND-BREAKING LEGAL CASE

International competition law expert Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen is launching a major class-action claim against Meta for abusing its market dominance for a minimum of £2.3 billion damages on behalf of affected UK Facebook users.

Key case facts

44
MILLION

Facebook users in the UK affected

£2.3
BILLION

Plus interest, minimum damages sought

OCT 2015 -
DEC 2019

Claim period covered for redress

What happened

Facebook is by far the largest social network in the UK. Yet, there was a dark side to Facebook’s ubiquity: it is alleged to have abused its market dominance to impose unfair terms and conditions on ordinary Britons giving it the power to exploit their personal data. As many as 44 million UK Facebook users may have been subject to this abuse by Facebook.

By exploiting users’ data, both within the Facebook platform and off-platform through mechanisms like the Facebook Pixel, the company was able to build very detailed pictures of users’ internet usage. By using deep data profiles of its users, the company generated excessive profits.

Facebook abused its market dominance to strike an unfair bargain with users, imposing terms and conditions on a take it or leave basis to access to its social network in exchange for users' highly valuable personal data, and zero monetary recompense.

Why it matters

In the UK, competition laws exist to prevent corporations in positions of market dominance from abusing their power through exploitation of their customers.

Our case will argue that Facebook set an “unfair price’” for its UK users. The “price” set for gaining access to the social network was the surrender of UK users’ highly valuable personal data on a take it or leave it basis for using the network.

In return, users only received “free” access to Facebook’s social network, and zero monetary recompense whilst Facebook generated billions in revenues from its users’ data. This unfair deal was only possible due to Facebook’s market dominance.

Facebook’s intrusive user data profiles became a hugely valuable private asset from which the company obtained excessive profits. In return, we received too little.

"In a free and fair market, competition should lead to lower prices and increased quality. But the bigger a company is in the market, the less choice we have, no matter what else they’re doing. Facebook has exploited its dominance at its users’ cost."

– Dr Lovdahl Gormsen

What we’re doing

Dr Lovdahl Gormsen's lawyers, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, have written to Meta to notify them of the claim. Quinn Emanuel has a strong track record in bringing consumer claims of this kind.

This landmark class action, brought under the Competition Act, will be the first of its kind against Meta in the UK. The action is backed by some of Britain’s most prominent competition lawyers, barristers and economists and aims to secure a minimum of £2.3 billion, plus interest, damages against Meta.

Dr Lovdahl Gormsen is leading this action on behalf of all affected UK Facebook users because she believes that Meta should compensate its users for its anti-competitive behaviour during the claim period.

The scale of Facebook’s user base means that the most effective method for consumers to receive redress is through an opt-out collective action in the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal.

Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen

Class Representative

Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen is the Senior Research Fellow at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) and the director of the Competition Law Forum. In addition, Dr Lovdahl Gormsen is a Non-Governmental Advisor to the International Competition Network, appointed by the UK Competition and Markets Authority and sits on the advisory board of the Journal of Antitrust Enforcement (OUP).

As an international expert in the field, she has submitted evidence in select committee hearings in the House of Commons and given written submissions to the House of Lords, as well as addressing audiences at the White House and European Commission.

Dr Lovdahl Gormsen co-authored the paper “Facebook’s Anticompetitive Lean in Strategies” (2019) and “Facebook’s Exploitative and Exclusionary Abuses in the Two-Sided Market for Social Networks and Display Advertising", Journal of Antitrust Enforcement (2021). The latter argues that antitrust enforcement is required to prevent the company from reinforcing its data-driven abuse of market power.

Stay informed

Learn more about the representative action against Facebook (now Meta), and receive more news and information around the claim’s progress.

 

FAQ

Dr Lovdahl Gormsen’s case alleges that the tech giant abused its market dominance by imposing unfair terms and conditions on UK users to exploit their personal data.

Since it was created in 2004, Facebook has become the biggest online social network and/or social media platform in the world, used by over two billion people every day.

However, Facebook abused its dominant position by imposing unfair terms and conditions on users. In order to access Facebook, users were required to give Facebook access to their highly valuable personal data. In return users only received “free” access to Facebook’s social network, and zero monetary recompense whilst Facebook generated billions in revenues from its users’ data. This unfair deal was only possible due to Facebook’s market dominance.

This multi-billion collective action for breach of competition law is being filed against Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of the Meta group and other relevant entities in the Meta group, including Facebook UK Limited and Meta Platforms Ireland Limited.

All UK-domiciled individuals who used Facebook between 1 October 2015 until 31 December 2019, in that they had a Facebook account and accessed that account at least once between 1 October 2015 until 31 December 2019.

As an opt-out case, consumers will not need to actively join the case to seek damages, but will be part of the claim unless they decide to opt-out from it.

A minimum of £2.3 billion damages, plus interest, are being pursued on behalf of affected UK Facebook users.

Dr Lovdahl Gormsen has secured funding for her case from Innsworth, one of the largest litigation funders in the world. There is no cost to the UK users for this claim.

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