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Facebook expects to be fined up to $5 billion over privacy scandals

April 25, 2019
Mark Zuckerberg addressing an audience
Mark Zuckerberg addressing an audienceAssociated Press

It would be the biggest-ever fine levied by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 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 billion to $5 billion is a whopping sum of money. But Facebook, which earns $56 billion in revenue every year, can potentially just write it 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 up the company.

This story first appeared in our daily newsletter, The Download. Sign up here to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech.

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