SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Multiple news reports on Friday said the FTC has voted to fine Facebook almost $5 billion for privacy violations and mishandling user data. This would be the largest the FTC has handed down to a tech company.
The FTC started investigating Facebook last March, after news reports that it had allowed Cambridge Analytica, a social media data company that worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, to collect data from millions of users without their knowledge.
“This is a large settlement to us but not to Facebook,” said KPIX legal analyst Paul Henderson.
“$5 billion is just a quarter of what the company makes annually. It’s more like a slap on the wrist, which is some criticism that we’re hearing from a lot of elected officials.”
A Wall Street Journal report says that the FTC vote was 3-2. Commissioners broke along party lines, with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition to the fine.
Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told CNN the company pledged to fix what he called a “breach of trust.”
“We identified apps that are similarly doing sketchy things. We’re going to make sure that we tell people then too, right, that’s definitely something that looking back on this, I regret that we didn’t do at the time. And I think we got that wrong and we’re committed to doing that right going forward,” Zuckerberg said.
CNET Editor-at-Large Ian Sherr says there’s no question Facebook is going to face increasing scrutiny going forward.
“Part of it, I think is that there’s this perception that the company is not doing enough for people’s privacy and it comes through in so many ways. There’s the constant talk on Capitol Hill and in legislatures around the world about regulating them,” said Sherr.
Facebook declined to comment on the reports. Wall Street appeared unfazed by the news. Facebook shares closed at their highest price in nearly a year.
The FTC settlement would still need to be reviewed by the Department of Justice.