Facebook ‘fined US$5bn’ over Cambridge Analytica privacy violations

Facebook has reportedly been hit with one of the biggest fines in history over privacy violations as part of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The Federal Trade Commission, the US government agency that promotes consumer protection, voted to approve a US$5bn fine against Facebook, following allegations that the tech giant shared the data of over 50m users.

The fine, originally reported by The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, both of which relied on anonymous sources, would be the largest approved by the FTC against a technology company, and the largest against any company for a privacy violation. However, critics are pointing to the fact that US$5bn is a mere fraction of Facebook’s 2018 revenue of US$55.838bn, and the platform’s share prices have actually increased in the wake of the FTC decision.

According to The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, the vote was 3-2 in favour of approving the fine, split along party lines. Democrats were opposed to the fine and Republicans in favour of it.

The FTC’s investigation into the social media giant began in March 2018, stemming from allegations that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, hired by Donald Trump’s campaign, improperly obtained the data of tens of millions of Facebook users.

The FTC stepped in because of the possibility the alleged privacy violation also breached a 2011 consent agreement between Facebook and the FTC, which centred on better protecting user privacy.

The FTC is yet to make a public comment. Mumbrella has approached Facebook for comment.


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