The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that Facebook will pay what is being labelled as a ‘record fine’ of $5bn in order to settle concerns over privacy.
The social media giant has also been told it must create an independent privacy committee and that Mark Zuckerberg (chief exec) will not possess any control over it.
The platform has not had much luck recently and has been in the news more often that it hasn’t. Allegations of fake news, inappropriate content and trust/concern issues are just a few of the issues it has been experiencing. Well, it looks as though that bad luck streak hasn’t passed just yet.
This whopping fine – reported to be the largest ever fine imposed on any business for violating the privacy of consumers – comes after the FTC ruled that Cambridge Analytica, political consultancy, managed to obtain ‘improperly’ the data of up to as many as 87 million Facebook users.
Joe Simons, Chairman of FTC said, “Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they could control how their personal information is shared, Facebook undermined consumers’ choices.”
The allegations looked into a quiz that Facebook put to its users in 2014, inviting them to answer some questions and find out their personality type. However, the app, which approximately 305,000 people installed, collected not only the data of those users taking the quiz, but also collected the date of their friends. Though only around 305,000 people actually installed the app, it has been reported that it actually gathered the data of up to 87 million people! Cambridge Analytica have denied allegations that the data it purchased was used to ‘psychologically profile’ voters in the US presidential election.
Facebook has apologised to its users and has admitted that a “breach of trust” has taken place. Mark Zuckerberg has announced that the platform would now be changing not only how its products are developed but also how the company as a whole is run. He confirmed that when a new product which collects and uses data is created in the future, this will be managed properly ensuring that any potential privacy risks have been addressed and dealt with.
He said, “Overall, these changes go beyond anything required under US law today. We expect it will take hundreds of engineers and more than a thousand people across our company to do this important work. And we expect it will take longer to build new products following this process going forward.”
Despite the large fine, it seems as though Facebook is remaining positive about the future and the upcoming changes it is going to have to create and adapt to in its efforts to protect its users’ privacy.