Facebook to pay an unprecedented $5 billion penalty over privacy breaches


It is the largest fine in FTC history — an unprecedented $5 billion penalty over privacy breaches. That's right Facebook must pay a record-breaking $5 billion fine as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, but that's chump change for the company that makes that kind of money in one month. Facebook has deep pockets - the firm's annual revenue last year was $55bn.

The settlement resolves a formal complaint by the FTC alleging that Facebook "used deceptive disclosures and settings" that eroded user privacy, violating a prior agreement Facebook signed with the commission in 2012. Facebook also broke the law, the FTC alleged, by misusing phone numbers obtained for account security purposes to also target advertisements to its users. And the company allegedly deceived "tens of millions of users" by implying that a facial recognition feature on the service had not been enabled by default, when in fact it had.

The fine was designed "to change Facebook's entire privacy culture to decrease the likelihood of continued violations"… read they sold our data and took advantage of our security.

If we are being honest her, Facebook got off the hook. This is a penalty that doesn’t require real structural changes, that financially is a drop in the bucket, and that appears to absolve Facebook of any liability over additional abuses like tricking kids into in-app purchases, is a get out jail free card for Facebook and sends a signal to the rest of the industry that business as usual is acceptable.

The deal comes amid growing calls in Washington for greater transparency and accountability for technology companies, whose power over social movements as well as personal information has increasingly come to be seen as dangerous by politicians, users, and even one of Facebook's co-founders.

Facebook also agreed to adopt new protections for the data users share on the social network and to measures that limit the power of CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Do you think Facebook got off the hook? Leave a comment below:

Watch more