FTC Votes to Settle With Facebook for $5B

Facebook will reportedly be fined a record $5 billion over privacy mishaps

The FTC is expected to include in the settlement other restrictions on how Facebook treats user privacy, according to the Wall Street Journal, which also said that the agency vote was along party lines, with three Republicans voting to approve it and two Democrats opposed. The FTC has been investigating whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent decree with the commission after it was revealed previous year that the company improperly shared information on millions of users with now-defunct United Kingdom political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. At the moment, the $22.5 million fine against Google in 2012 is the largest penalty imposed by the FTC.

Whether or not you pay much attention to the stock market, you probably couldn't help but notice headlines today about Facebook, Inc. shares dropping dramatically due to issues involving user privacy.

For now, the specifics of the settlement remain largely unknown, except for the figure which is believed to be in the region of $5 billion.

The deal still needs final approval from the Justice Department, which rarely rejects settlements reached by the agency.

Facebook declined to comment on the Journal's report of the FTC fine; the FTC did not immediately respond to messages for comment from the Associated Press. The consent decree followed a prior FTC investigation that found Facebook mishandled user data.

"It's also clear that we're going to need Congress and the state attorneys general to take the mantle of any future antitrust investigation of Facebook because Trump's FTC appointees are not up to the task", Miller added.

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Facebook already set aside $3 billion in April of this year in anticipation of the fine.

Facebook declined to comment on the status of those probes.

Marc Rotenberg, president of the nonprofit online privacy advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center, said he was "confused" as to why the Democratic commissioners didn't support the settlement and said he suspects, without having seen the actual settlement, that this was due to the Zuckerberg liability question.

Facebook's revenue for the first quarter of this year was $15.1 billion (roughly Rs. 1,02,840 crores) while its net income was $2.43 billion (roughly Rs. 16,660 crores). But Facebook is still in business, and $5 billion won't even scratch the surface of the company's coffers.

As the probe dragged on, FTC Chairman Joe Simons came under increasing pressure from lawmakers and privacy advocates to craft a tough settlement that would protect users' privacy.

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