After the relatively recent Cambridge Analytica scandal which saw Facebook user data being harvested and used for political campaign purposes, the Federal Trade Commission in the US began investigating the social media platform, for a potential breach of a 2011 agreement with the platform regarding consumer privacy.
Of course, that’s only one of a number of data privacy scandals that has rocked the platform recently, including a hacking incident, and their admission, just this month, that they had ‘unintentionally uploaded’ 1.5 million people’s email contacts without their consent, at about the same time as Facebook investors allegedly plan another (probably futile) attempt to get founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to step away from the platform.
Scope Of Charges Not Clear Yet
As of this week, it is not yet clear which specific incidents will form part of this fine. Certainly Facebook must be hoping that it will cover all of their numerous violations to date, and the answer to that question may well inform investors moving forward, especially following their 1st quarter results, (just announced) which saw shares jump 5% following a declaration of $45 Billion in cash on the balance sheet.
Global Moves Toward Regulation
Some analysts suggest that this fine may be indicative of US groups taking note of similar actions against the platform, and potential restrictions it may face, from controlling bodies and legislators around the world.
The EU and the UK have both suggested fines against the company for failing to protect user data, and for being in breach of the new GDPR laws regarding digital privacy etc. and as such, Facebook and it’s subsidiary companies like Instagram etc. as well as Google, are facing never-before seen levels of scrutiny from national governments, with the potential for changing the way that these companies are able to do business.
Traditionally, platforms like these have fallen back on the defence that they merely provide the platform, and cannot be responsible for what users post. However, with these platforms becoming ever more integrated into daily life, many groups seem to feel that they should have some sort of accountability, particularly with events like terror attacks, murders, and suicides sometimes being streamed live.
Nobody is quite sure where it is all going to end, but one thing seems certain: It probably won’t be the same for too much longer.