Facebook Hit with $5 Billion Fine by FTC Over Data Scandal; Critics Call Punishment “Weak”, Virtual “Slap on the Wrist”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as he testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding the company’s use and protection of user data following the Cambridge Analytica breach. During the nearly five hour hearing, Mr. Zuckerberg acknowledged that government regulations are “inevitable” but stressed that a balance of the right regulations are best. File photo: APRIL 11, 2018, C-SPAN.

NEW YORK, NY – As punishment over their role in the 2018 Cambridge Analytica data scandal, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this week issued a $5 billion settlement fine against social media giant Facebook, a move that critics – including Democratic lawmakers and members of the technology industry – decried as “weak.”

The details of the punishment, approved by FTC commissioners in a 3-2 vote, were not made public, but according to reports Facebook – in addition to the $5 billion payout – will have to endure a higher degree of governmental oversight as it relates to future data collection practices.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) was a vocal critic of the deal, noting in a statement that the $5 billion fine is essentially a drop in the bucket compared to Facebook’s overall worth, given that their revenue for the first quarter of 2019 alone was $15 billion.

“This fine is a fraction of Facebook’s annual revenue. It won’t make them think twice about their responsibility to protect user data,” he said. “It’s very disappointing that such an enormously powerful company that engaged in such serious misconduct is getting a slap on the wrist.”

Other politicians critical of the Facebook/FTC deal include Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and  Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), among others.

The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal was a major political scandal in early 2018 when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, British political consulting firm, had harvested the personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent and used it for political advertising purposes.

After the FTC deal was announced, lawmakers in Congress have announced their own investigations into Facebook – along with those that are currently ongoing – with the possibility of more punishments being issued against the social media giant growing stronger by the day.

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