FTC Settlement: Facebook Fined Five Billion Dollars for User Privacy Violations

Facebook just got slapped with a $5 billion fine by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for failing to protect its users from misappropriation of private information garnered from third-party apps. Much of the basis of the fine is the result of Facebook’s failure to comply with a 2012 settlement agreement with the FTC beginning in 2012 and continuing at least until June 2018. Read the FTC complaint to get a glimpse of the scope of the deception.

While the fine is one of the largest penalties ever assessed by the U.S. government for any violation, it is still just a drop in the bucket for a company that brought in $55.8 billion in 2018.

Facebook will also have to submit to new restrictions and modify its approach to privacy with new corporate oversight that includes a privacy board committee that is not controlled by Facebook employees or Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

In a July 24 joint statement, FTC Chairman Joe Simons along with Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine S. Wilson wrote, “We are extremely proud of the landmark penalty and conduct relief announced today. The size of the $5 billion penalty, as well as the percentage of profits it represents, will provide significant deterrence not just to Facebook, but to every other company that collects or uses consumer data. This penalty raises the bar for civil penalties in future matters involving privacy violations . . . . [T]his settlement represents an unprecedented victory for consumer privacy.”

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