More than a year ago, Facebook was caught up in a data violation scandal after a revelation that Cambridge Analytica acquired data from the social media company, not only to influence voters in the United States but also in African countries with subscribers oblivious of the violation.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has now agreed to a $5 billion settlement to let Facebook off the leash. Despite this being the biggest fine by far levied by the agency against a technology company, the move has been termed as an embarrassing joke. In addition to this settlement, the social media company will be expected to tighten loopholes on how users’ data is handled.
As vague as it sounds, the settlement includes Mark Zuckerberg promising that the company has protected user privacy and availing paperwork to show how the user’s data will be used before launching any new products. However, these additions to the billion dollar settlement do not restrict Facebook from collecting and sharing data with third parties. It is correct to call the ‘punishment’ hypothetical.
With many terming the settlement as a slap on the wrist, both Facebook and FTC have kept the settlement under wraps with none of the parties coming forward to confirm. Inside sources however confirm that the five member committee voted 3-2 with Democrats (2) seeking stricter limits on the company.
For a company recording billions in revenue; $15 billion last quarter, the court of public opinion sees this as a coax.
Even with many advocating for tougher penalties, Facebook’s shares went up by 1.81% after the settlement by FTC was revealed. The same happened April this year when Facebook disclosed it was getting ready to pay a fine somewhere between $3 and $5 billion. Stocks jumped by 10 percent easily eclipsing Facebook’s questionable ethics.
Even as the settlement brews up mixed feelings, it remains clear that a majority of congress men and women are for the opinion that Facebook be broken up to serve as an example to other technology companies. After many months of investigation and even a forgotten violation case from 2011, the FTC is now under fire with its decision being termed as “historically hollow”, “Miserable Fail” and even an early “Christmas present” for Facebook.