Facebook and privacy do not exactly go hand-in-hand. The social media company has consistently been criticized by individuals, advocates, and government officials for its inability or unwillingness to protect the private data of its users, and now that may cost them. According to the New York Times, Facebook will likely pay a $5 billion fine to the Federal Trade Commission relating to 2011 privacy consent violations.
It was only April of last year that founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg sat in front of Congress and answered questions about a 2016 privacy breach in which Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm that “offered tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior” to the Trump campaign, was able to access user information on 87 million users, 70 million of whom were Americans. (Similarly, there was a massive security breach in 2018, in which hackers were able to access approximately 50 million accounts.)
This whopping fine — which Facebook revealed in its quarterly earnings report is likely to be anywhere from $3 billion to $5 billion — is related to a 2011 privacy breach. The social media giant promised in 2011 to develop safety measures to guarantee user privacy after an FTC investigation had found that it improperly handled information. It didn’t.
Per an FTC press release, the regulating body determined that Facebook “deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.” Currently, the social media giant is under FTC investigation for the 2016 breach related to Cambridge Analytica.
In the earnings report, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said, “We are focused on building out our privacy-focused vision for the future of social networking, and working collaboratively to address important issues around the internet.”