FTC Hands Down 5 Billion Dollar Penalty to Facebook
Back in 2012, Facebook made promises that turned out to be misleading. It claimed that users could select information to be only visible to friends, but had neglected to close a hole allowing apps used by friends to access their data. This became painfully apparent with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where countless users' data was unwittingly collected due to failures by Facebook to adequately give users control of their own data and privacy settings, or otherwise inform consumers how, even if they did not explicitly permit this collection, it could and would occur. However, after once again misrepresenting its security features and violating a 2012 FTC order, Facebook has been hit with a heavy five billion dollar fine, with additional, groundbreaking requirements regarding data security and public disclosures.
What Happened to Facebook?
In short, it broke promises again. The FTC alleged that Facebook had once again given companies access to information that consumers indicated they did not want to share. The FTC also alleged that Facebook mislead consumers about how it used facial recognition, cell phone numbers and other forms of personal data. This violation raised the ire of the FTC, especially after the previous 20-year settlement with the entity, prompting a much harsher reaction and deal consisting of the following prongs:
What Can Everyone Learn from Facebook?
To avoid issues, it is best to address privacy concerns openly and proactively, even using this as a selling point to consumers. As the FTC pursued Facebook due to its misrepresentations, it is important to address user control over data clearly and explicitly.
Furthermore, the FTC will only get stricter about privacy issues. Of the five commissioners, the two dissenting comments both claimed that the settlement was insufficient and that this matter should have been litigated. This should be taken as a note that the federal government will likely raise privacy interests to a higher level in the future, especially in light of the recent U.S. antitrust probe regarding technology companies and various states legislating privacy issues.