The climate issue

Climate change: a survivor's guide

Time to start talking less about the technology for preventing global warming and more about the technology we’ll need to live with it.

It would be the biggest ever fine levied by the Federal Trade Commission against a technology company.

How we know: In its quarterly financial results, Facebook said it had set aside money for a one-time payment of $3 billion to $5 billion related to the FTC’s inquiry.

The context: The FTC is investigating Facebook over several issues, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and claims it broke a 2011 privacy consent ruling. The two parties have been in talks for months but it’s not clear when we can expect any form of agreement to be reached.

All a matter of perspective: To most of us (and to the FTC), $3-5 billion is a whopping sum of money. But for Facebook, which earns $56 billion in revenue every year, it can potentially just be written off as a cost of doing business.

An alternative: If US lawmakers really want to force Facebook to change its practices, they could look at new privacy or data legislation, or even breaking the company up.

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