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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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Shout Your Abortion Co-Founder to Release Children’s Book

The co-founder of the pro-choice #ShoutYourAbortion social media campaign that is attempting to put a positive spin on murdering children in the womb teamed up with Seattle-based HiHo Kids to produce a YouTube video in which children ask her questions about her abortion.

In the video, Amelia Bonow compares the abortion procedure to “a crappy dentist appointment.” Bonow goes on to say that she believes “life begins when a person has a baby,” not at conception, and that abortion “is all part of God’s plan.”

Bonow is the author of the book Shout Your Abortion and plans a children’s book about abortion in 2020.

While the secular media, including Oprah’s O Magazine, is promoting Bonow’s activism and the pro-choice narrative, there is a conservative counter-movement called Silent No More that details the regrets of women who have had abortions. Pro-life activist Alveda King is one of the movement’s spokespersons.

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Political Figures, Social Media, and Free Speech

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing several conservative public servants, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, and now Maine Gov. Paul LePage for blocking individuals from their official social media accounts. The ACLU argues that official social media accounts constitute a “public forum” where constituents should be able to voice their opinions. But is it wrong to weed out abusive comments? Rob Anderson, chairman of Utah’s Republican Party, doesn’t think so. “You own your Facebook page and if you want to block somebody or hide somebody, that’s up to you,” he says. “Why else is there a tab that says hide or block?” With more and more politicians, particularly candidates up for election or reelection, going online to talk about the issues in the next several months, this will clearly be a matter of contention.

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