Facebook could be hit with massive fines by the Federal Trade Commission for failing to protect users’ data. According to a report by the Washington Post, the fines would be “record-setting,” and could have a major impact on the popular social media site.
According to three people close to the discussions, who were not authorized to speak on the record, the FTC is targeting Facebook in light of their misuse of personal data. This comes after last year’s report on political consulting agency Cambridge Analytica. It was revealed that the agency had taken personal information from millions of Facebook users — all without their consent.
The FTC followed the report with an investigation into Facebook’s practices and privacy policies — one that could end up costing the site big bucks. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the fine will be larger than the one levied against Google in 2012. Google ended up handing over $22.5 million for allegedly violating an agreement over improving their privacy practices.
The fine Facebook could end up paying might be significantly larger, although no one involved in the case offered up any specific numbers. However, it is worth noting that the FTC permits fines of up to $40,000 per violation. Some have theorized that the FTC might opt to levy a fine for every user who had their personal data violated.
The FTC investigation is also looking into whether or not Facebook violated an agreement with the organization. Back in 2011, Facebook signed a consent decree that stated they would only share users’ personal data after receiving explicit permission. The FTC suspects that the Cambridge Analytica situation may have violated that agreement.
Although it’s one of the biggest data breaches Facebook has had to contend with, the Cambridge Analytica incident is by no means the only privacy violation the site is accused of. Just last month, the company confirmed that is has allowed other companies to read the private messages sent between users. Facebook insists this was only done with users’ consent; many users have denied ever giving permission regarding their private communications on the site.
And back in September, Facebook had to contend with yet another privacy scandal. The company admitted to a major security breach that saw up to 50 million users have their data compromised. The report was later amended to say that only 30 million people had been impacted by the breach.
Facebook has not yet commented on the reports. The FTC remains closed due to the ongoing government shutdown, and has not issued a statement at this time.