On Wednesday, July 24, 2019, Facebook as slapped with a $5 billion fine by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for its breeching of its user’s privacy data. Facebook has over 169.5 million users which is half the population in the US which is up by 9 percent since 2017 from 51.4 percent to 51.5 percent and analysts project a growth increase to176.3 million users by 2022.
This FTC civil penalty is the largest civil penalty thus far in its history superseding Dish Network’s fine in 2017 of $168 million and yet according to data submitted, the $5 billion fine to Facebook will only be about a month’s worth of revenue for the company.
There has been growing pressure on Washington to do something about more transparency and accountability for tech companies which have grown in power and influence through its social medial platforms especially since 2018 when the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke out. It was a major political scandal that revealed over 87million user’s privacy data had been breeched by Facebook. Since then it has been deemed a dangerous tool for use by politicians, organizations and other users.
Facebook has admitted to privacy breeches and it own privacy practices, such as the inadvertent exposure of data in Cambridge Analytica, which it has strived to change to be more transparent. The FTC penalty finally resolves complaints made against Facebook for using deceptive practices, disclosures and settings, breaking down user privacy as well as violating a prior agreement that Facebook had made with the FTC in 2012.
FTCChairman Joseph Simonssays that the massive $5 billion penalty and expansive conduct relief, which is designed to deter and punish future violators is unprecedented in the history of the FTC. The FTC’s decisions hopefully will bear great weight to change Facebook’scomplete privacy culture to deter any future violations by them or any other tech business in the industry.
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberghas said that his company has agreed to pay the massive historic fine but even more so they intend to make major changes to the way they build their tech and social media products and how Facebook is run. Zuckerbergstates that user privacy is foremost in his company’s responsibility to protect and is working hard to live up to it. Facebook he says will work to set up a completely new standard for the industry.