a big week for Facebook. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to appear before
Congress tomorrow, ready to fess up to his social network’s
multitudinous problems. But the company might soon have a bigger
adversary: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which could put
Facebook on the hook for more money than even its redoubtable coffers
came to a
settlement with the FTC in 2011 over a claim that the
former had “deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their
information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be
shared and made public.” Under the terms of the settlement, Facebook
was obligated to follow certain guidelines to protect consumer
is barred from making misrepresentations about the privacy or
security of consumers’ personal information; … [and is] required to
obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before enacting
changes that override their privacy preferences.
the time FTC Chairman Leibowitz said of the violation:
is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its
hundreds of millions of users. Facebook’s innovation does not have
to come at the expense of consumer privacy. The FTC action will
ensure it will not.
FC has since confirmed that
it’s conducting a “non-public investigation into these practices.”
According to the FTC’s website, the maximum civil penalty amount it
can charge for a violation this year is $41,484.
Post estimated, with the number of American users
who may have had their data scraped (which would be all of them), and
the number of users who potentially had their information compromised
by Cambridge Analytica — the maximum amount of money the FTC could
conceivably fine Facebook would be roughly $7.1 trillion.
all the money. According to the Federal
there’s only (only?)
$1.63 trillion currently in circulation.
course, it’s highly, highly unlikely the FTC would actually put
Facebook on the hook for that much money. But if its investigation
finds Facebook to be in violation of the 2011 decree, and it chooses
to fine even a fraction of that amount, the company could be in for a