U.S. Regulator And State Attorneys Step Up Pressure On Facebook

Facebook is facing increasing pressures at home and abroad. The Federal Trade Commission has launched a probe into how the tech company allowed user information to end up in the wrong hands.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during preparation for the Facebook Communities Summit, in Chicago. Zuckerberg embarked on a rare media mini-blitz Wednesday, March 22, 2018, in the wake of a privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm.
Nam Y. Huh / AP Images

Facebook is facing increasing pressures at home and abroad. The Federal Trade Commission has launched a probe into how the tech company allowed user information to end up in the wrong hands.

Since the suspension of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook has encountered scrutiny and pressure over the data leak. The Federal Trade Commission announced on Monday it had launched an investigation into Facebook’s data breach.

The FTC along with lawyers representing 37 states are mounting pressure on Facebook. According to Reuters, all of the parties involved in this recent initiative asked how the social network’s data of 50 million users ended up in a political consultancy firm.

The FTC’s investigation is an unusual move and is being done in this case since it’s of great public interest. In addition, the regulator’s interest in the investigation was attributed to media reports. Also, the news of the data breach raised concerns over the privacy practices by the social network.

Simultaneously, a bipartisan coalition came together and in a letter, they demanded to know more about Facebook’s role in the usage of user data.

“These revelations raise many serious questions concerning Facebook’s policies and practices, and the processes in place to ensure they are followed,” the letter said. “We need to know that users can trust Facebook. With the information we have now, our trust has been broken.”

Upon the public learning of the developments of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, both companies are being sued. The lawsuit was filed in San Jose, California. This litigation was initiated over the unauthorized use of Facebook data from 50 million users, and more lawsuits are expected to follow.

As reported by Reuters, Facebook shares fell 6.5 percent and dipped below $150. This was the first time since July 2017. Furthermore, shares since March 16 have been down, and Facebook has lost more than $70 billion in market value.

The FTC will examine if Facebook violated a 2011 consent order where it had agreed to abide by the request of complying with the federal agency. In the event of foul play by Facebook, the agency is authorized to administer a fine in the thousands of dollars a day per violation. In other words, it could cost the tech giant billions of dollars.

Trust for Facebook has dropped significantly. In a Reuters and Ipsos poll released Sunday, the findings revealed less than half of Americans trust the company with their information. It translates to not trusting the social channel to follow U.S. privacy laws accordingly.

In this same survey, Facebook was rated lower than other tech companies. For example, Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo performed better in terms of trust with data handling.

As reported by CNBC, the FTC will utilize all its available resources to ensure the privacy of consumers is upheld. The agency’s statement alluded to why it was launching a probe into Facebook.

“The FTC is firmly and fully committed to using all of its tools to protect the privacy of consumers. Foremost among these tools is enforcement action against companies that fail to honor their privacy promises, including to comply with Privacy Shield, or that engage in unfair acts that cause substantial injury to consumers in violation of the FTC Act. Companies who have settled previous FTC actions must also comply with FTC order provisions imposing privacy and data security requirements. Accordingly, the FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook. Today, the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices.”