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Facebook is Facing a Multibillion-Dollar Fine From the FTC
News from Attorney Carlos Gamino

Facebook is Facing a Multibillion-Dollar Fine From the FTC

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By Carlos Gamino

The Federal Trade Commission is about to hit Facebook with a multibillion-dollar fine – the largest in U.S. history – to settle the agency’s investigation in the social media giant’s privacy practices. It’ll be the largest that the FTC has ever levied against a tech company (the largest so far was a 2012 fine against Google, which clocked in at $22.5 million). 

Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where the political consulting firm accessed the data of about 87 million Facebook users, the FTC and Facebook have been operating under a consent decree. That means Facebook agreed that it would no longer deceive its users and tell them that certain profile information would remain private.

However, some experts are saying that even a multibillion-dollar fine isn’t enough to change Facebook’s bad behavior.

In Europe, though, where officials have taken a much tougher stance on privacy than those in the U.S. have, Facebook can’t get away with nearly as much. In Germany, for example, lawmakers forbade Facebook from tracking users across the internet and merging the data it collected with those people’s user profiles. Facebook is appealing that decision because it’s going to deliver a serious below to its business model. 

“The fact that the FTC is considering a multibillion fine shows just how serious it considers the privacy violations by Facebook,” said Frederike Kaltheuner of Privacy International. “This is serious and a strong signal for data protection authorities and regulators around the world about the need to impose severe sanctions for privacy violations.”

The problem is that Facebook is currently valued at about $465 billion. It could handle a multibillion-dollar fine without flinching – but it doesn’t want any restrictions placed on the way it’s able to make money off user data. 

In December 2018, the New York Times revealed that Facebook was – in addition to making money off targeted ads to its users – selling personal data with some of the world’s biggest tech companies. 

What Do You Think?

What are your privacy settings like on Facebook? Are you concerned with the way they use and you’re your information? I’d love to hear what you think, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page (yes, I know) or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino