It’s been an eventful day for the world’s largest social media company. Within a couple of hours of its second quarter earnings report, we learned that Facebook was hit with a historic privacy fine, that it’s under antitrust investigation by the FTC and facing a lawsuit from the Consumer Protection Branch of the Department of Justice
over “its failure to protect consumers’ privacy” as required by a 2012 SEC order. The DOJ is seeking civil penalties, an injunction, and other equitable relief for the violations, meaning that Facebook could be facing another sizeable penalty after just having settled for $5 billion with the FTC.
As our chart shows, the penalty Facebook agreed on to settle charges of it violating a 2012 FTC order by deceiving users about their ability to control the privacy of their personal information, is by far the largest fine ever imposed for violating consumers’ privacy. According to the FTC, the $275 million penalty it inflicted on Equifax earlier this week for exposing the personal information of nearly 150 million people is the second-largest privacy penalty followed by $230 and $148 million fines against British Airways and Uber, respectively, both involving data breaches and, in the case of Uber, an attempted cover-up.
Along with the record-breaking fine, the settlement announced
yesterday also imposes severe restriction on Facebook’s future operations, requiring the world’s largest social media company to “restructure its approach to privacy” and to establish new mechanisms “to ensure that Facebook executives are accountable for the decisions they make about privacy”. In its statement the FTC states that it takes “consumer privacy seriously”, vowing to enforce its “orders to the fullest extent of the law”.