The US Federal Trade Commission, which has been investigating Facebook in the wake of its massive Cambridge Analytica scandal, has voted to approve levying a massive $5 billion (£3.9 billion) fine against the social media giant, according to reporting in both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. It’s the single largest fine against a tech company by the FTC to date, though not the largest the agency has ever inflicted on a firm for bad behaviour.
Facebook was aware of a fine of this magnitude potentially coming down the pike for some time, and braced for a hit between $3 billion(£2.4 billion) and $5 billion (£3.9 billion). The approval vote—which reportedly split down party lines, with three Republicans voting in favour and two Democrats against—was on the higher end of the expected spectrum.
This is expected to cap the agency’s investigation into the data-mining scandal that compromised up to 87 million Facebook users’ personal data. The data was originally harvested using a seemingly benign quiz app on the platform but was later potentially used by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, for the unrelated purpose of political ad targeting.
Facebook declined to comment on the FTC vote, while the FTC itself did not respond by the time of publication.
While massive by the standards of tech companies, which too frequently get off with a slap on the wrist of lax data privacy practices which endanger users, the FTC’s fine still represents less than a third of the company’s $15.08 billion (£11.9 billion) earnings from just the first quarter of this year. [WaPo/WSJ]