The FTC will hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine over privacy violations

Mark Zuckerberg as he testified before Congress in April 2018.
Bill Clark/Getty Images

Facebook has agreed to a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its numerous “privacy missteps,” according to a new report.

The three Republican FTC commissioners voted  to approve the massive settlement, while the two Democratic commissioners objected, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the agreement on Friday.

It’s now up to the Justice Department’s civil division to finalize the settlement, though the department rarely overturns any FTC settlements. Once it goes through, this would the largest FTC fines ever for a major technology company. The previous record was a $22.5 million fine against Google in 2012.

That said, it’s a drop in the bucket for Facebook: $5 billion is not even 10% of the $55 billion the company made in ad revenue in 2018

We reached out to Facebook to get more clarity, but a spokesperson would not confirm the settlement and declined to comment any further.

It’s not entirely clear how Facebook would avoid any “privacy missteps” in the future, though the Wall Street Journal said the settlement is expected to include “other government restrictions on how Facebook treats user privacy.” We’ve contacted the FTC for more details, but a spokeswoman declined to comment or confirm the settlement.

Facebook has spent much of the past year under fire for the way it treats users’ personal data. The Cambridge Analytica scandal, which came to light in 2018 after the data analytics firm was found to have improperly mined private information from as many as 87 million accounts, was a turning point that set off the FTC investigation. Since then, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has testified before Congress and said he wants to build a “privacy-focused social platform.”

At the same time, a lawyer for Facebook said in court that users shouldn’t expect any privacy on the site.

The company said in April that it planned to pay up to $5 billion for the FTC investigation into Cambridge Analytica. The FTC vote came after a divide between Democrats and Republicans: the Democratic commissioners wanted more oversight over Facebook, but were outvoted by their GOP colleagues.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated with additional information.


You could soon see electric scooters driving themselves to charging stations

It might not be too long before electric scooters used by companies like Bird and Lime begin driving themselves to charging stations rather than having to be collected by a team of people at the end of the day.

Huawei gets another short reprieve from ban, but the future doesn’t look hopeful

Huawei has been given another 90-day extension to the Temporary General License, which holds off the ban imposed on it by the U.S. government in May, meaning it’s allowed to continue trading with U.S. companies for now.
Emerging Tech

Amazon’s facial recognition updates can detect fear, among other emotions

Amazon’s facial recognition software can detect emotion on people’s faces. The company announced improvements in emotion detection, including: Happy, sad, angry, surprised, disgusted, calm, confused, and fear.

Facebook admits it was listening to your private conversations, too

Facebook outsourced contractors to listen in on your audio messenger chats and transcribe them. Contractors were not told why they were listening in or why they were transcribing them. Facebook said it is no longer transcribing audio. 

Sen. Josh Hawley wants to ban infinite scroll and autoplay videos

Sen. Josh Hawley introduced legislation on Tuesday calling for tech giants to curb deceptive techniques that fuel social media addiction.The bill would ban features that he says can be addictive to users like infinite scroll and autoplay.

Facebook’s ‘brain-computer interface’ could let you type with your mind

Facebook talked a couple of years ago about creating technology that lets you type with your mind. Aimed primarily at patients with speech loss due to paralysis, the company recently offered an update on its ambitious project.

WhatsApp has 400 million users in India, but no fix for its fake news problem

WhatsApp is struggling to stem the tide of fake news in India, its biggest market. In the last few years, its platform has been inundated with an around-the-clock avalanche of misinformation -- misleading mobs into lynching innocents and…

Facebook just deleted fake accounts from the Middle East

Facebook removed fake accounts from UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia because of coordinated inauthentic behavior. The social network announced in a blog post the removal of pages, groups, and accounts that originated in these countries.

The FTC wants to know exactly why Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp

The Federal Trade Commission's antitrust investigation into Facebook will focus in on its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. The FTC wants to know if Facebook tried to acquire its social media rivals before they would become a threat

Facebook is going to add its name to Instagram and WhatsApp

Facebook plans to add its name to both Instagram and WhatsApp as politicians call for the social media giant to be broken apart and the FTC investigates Facebook’s acquisition of both companies.

These are the 10 most disliked videos on YouTube

Ever wondered which videos are the most disliked videos on YouTube? Well, we have the top ten list you’re looking for. Here are the latest videos with the most dislikes currently on YouTube.

Telegram’s new Slow Mode aims to bring order to noisy group chats

Messaging app Telegram has just released some new features that are bound to please. Slow Mode aims to bring some order to group chats, while Silent Messages ensures you won’t wake your buddy if you get in touch late in the day.
Social Media

The EU could hit Facebook with billions in fines over privacy violations

The European Union is reportedly nearing the end of its investigations into some of the cases it has opened against Facebook pertaining to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. The EU currently has 11 open cases against the…
Social Media

Quit hitting refresh: Twitter is testing a subscribe to tweet replies feature

Soon you might be able to get a push notification when a tweet has been replied to as well. Twitter is currently testing a new feature that will allow users to turn on notifications for a particular thread.