The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has voted 3-2 to approve a $5 billion fine against Facebook in a settlement of an investigation related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal where the data of more than 87 million Facebook users was scraped by a third-party political consultancy.
The FTC probe into Facebook started in March and during April, reports emerged which indicated that the FTC was preparing to hit Facebook with a multi-billion dollar fine. This $5 billion fine is the largest privacy fine ever issued by the FTC but represents just over a month of Facebook’s revenue.
The fine comes after Facebook was fined $2 million earlier this month for violating Germany’s “hate speech” laws and issued a $1.1 million fine by Italy’s privacy watchdog last month. Even when combined with this record FTC fine, these fines collectively account for less than two month’s of Facebook’s annual revenue.
While this FTC investigation has wrapped up, Facebook is still being investigated by multiple other agencies. The UK’s Competition and Market’s Authority recently opened an investigation into Facebook’s ad market dominance, the US Congress is investigating Facebook and other big tech companies for antitrust violations, and the US House Judiciary Committee has also launched an antitrust investigation into multiple large tech companies including Facebook.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters has also asked Facebook to stop the development of its Libra cryptocurrency until a hearing can be held in the US Congress – a hearing which is scheduled for July 17. Additionally, President Trump increased the scrutiny of Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency yesterday when he said if Facebook wants to become a bank, it must be subject to all banking regulations.
And Facebook’s problems don’t end there. It’s facing a defamation lawsuit from independent journalist Laura Loomer for labeling her a “dangerous individual” and new data released just a few days ago showed that UK user interactions in the Facebook mobile app had dropped by 38% year-on-year.