FTC approves fine of $5 billion against Facebook over Cambridge Analytica privacy violations

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved a fine of $5 billion against Facebook over the mishandling of users’ personal information after revelations that Cambridge Analytica improperly acquired data from 87 million users.

According to reports, the fine was approved in a 3-2 vote by the FTC. The investigation surrounded allegations that Facebook was in violation of the 2011 agreement when the company and the FCC came to the consensus that Facebook had “deceived” users into believing their data was private, when in fact often this was not the case.

In 2011, the FCC chose not to hand down a fine but rather set out clear guidelines. Facebook would have to seek users’ consent and inform them before sharing data that is in breach of their security settings.

In March 2018, the FTC announced it would be looking into claims that Cambridge Analytica had accessed users’ data via a Facebook quiz that promised to reveal their personality type. The game was aimed to gather the data from that profile and the data of their friends.

The fine is still to be approved by the Justice Department’s civil division and if passed this will be the largest penalty ever passed down by the FTC to a technology company. Facebook said in a statement they had been anticipating the sizeable fine, which amounts to roughly a quarter of the company’s annual profit and has already set aside the majority of the sum.

There is no word on whether further adjustments must be made by Facebook regarding the use of users’ data and privacy.