Facebook gets its wrist slapped $5b for fumbling our data, confirms FTC
It’s been confirmed: insiders said last week that Facebook would be wrist-slapped with a $5 billion fine for losing control of users’ data, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said on Wednesday that yes indeed, that’s what’s happening.
It’s a record-breaking penalty, but it doesn’t satisfy the “break it up” crowd – not at all. Last week, a chorus of Democrats called it a slap on the wrist. An early Christmas present. A drop-in-the-bucket penalty. Chump change. A mosquito bite.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, for one, pointed out that Facebook made $5 billion in profits in just the first three months of last year.
But as the Washington Post reports, over the course of its 16-month privacy investigation, the FTC stopped short of putting some real hurt on Facebook.
Initially, the FTC had entertained the possibility of much tougher punishments, such as a fine that would have reached tens of billions of dollars. Facebook recorded nearly $56 billion in revenue last year.
Ten people familiar with the matter told the Post that the FTC had also considered imposing more direct liability for the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. As you might recall, in November 2018, Senator Ron Wyden floated the idea of sentencing execs up to 20 years when they let users’ privacy details slip through their greasy fingers.
Facebook successfully fought tooth and nail to make sure that Mark wouldn’t be wearing orange anytime soon, forcing the commission to back off and settle on the $5 billion wrist-slap. As the Post notes, this is a David and Goliath situation, but David only has marshmallows in his slingshot: Facebook’s revenue last year was about 200 times the budget that federal regulators were working off of.