$5 Billion Fine on Facebook: Less of Penalty, More of Mockery?

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Last week FTC finally confirmed the $5 billion fine on Facebook. While it didn’t surprise many as Facebook already anticipated it much earlier, a debate is trigged about the possible impact of the fine on Facebook and other major social media players who are constantly taking users’ privacy for granted. In fact, many people believe that it’s no less than an eyewash as Facebook and Zuckerberg just got away by throwing off $5 billion which has hardly made any dent on the social media giant that is raking in billions of dollars in revenue every quarter.

The social media giant, Facebook, could have gotten into a more troublesome situation if the federal government implemented the harsher side of the punishment. FTC eventually settled on a $5 billion fine with Facebook for its privacy violation act.

A $5 billion penalty is a record penalty FTC has imposed on any tech company till date, but the privacy investigation could have more severe consequences for Facebook. There are increasing circumspections by many lawmakers that the government might not stand up to the global digital platform.

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), one of the panel’s Democrats burst out on the regulators by saying, “All too often the FTC has fallen short.

Hefty Fine On Facebook: What Held FTC Back

The 16-month investigation after the Cambridge Analytica scandal resulted in a $5 billion dollar fine along with an unrivalled oversight of Facebook’s business practices by the government. The administrable oversight is still not clear to entail.

Some people agree that it is quite a hefty fine, much bigger than $22 million levied against Google in 2012, however, it is just like everything else that comes in comparison to Facebook – the scale is just too small.

Some people aware of the matter described that FTC initially had some even harsher punishments in mind which didn’t see the light of the day. Had that been come into the effect, Facebook could have lost tens of billions of dollars from its pocket – almost equal to 3-6 months of Facebook’s global revenue.

FTC was also hoping to put Mark Zuckerberg in the centre and hold him accountable in a more direct way. Even the rumours started making rounds about the possible exit of Zuckerberg. However, the dominating digital platform showed strong resistance and the government eventually had to settle for less.

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The Cambridge Analytica scandal came into light three years later and put about 87 million users’ private information at risk for further mishandling. This caused an outrage among the regulators. The backlash further increased when Facebook acknowledged later that malicious actors had separately scarped personal data of most of its 2 billion users worldwide. Just after 2 months, in June, Facebook once again shocked the world by revealing that nearly 14 million users had been affected by a bug that compromised their security and made their supposedly private status, public.  

This only raised more eyebrows on FTC’s watch on Facebook since 2012. Why a single violation wasn’t reported against the tech giant?  

The question about users’ privacy still remains vague as the nation lacks a national consumer privacy law. Several renders about whether the penalty would result in any kind of actual privacy and protection for users surfaced online. FTC, however, is trying to justify the penalty for the kind of powers it possesses. The Congress is yet to make advanced legislation that would give FTC more powers to deal with some of the most profitable corporations.

Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Richard Blumenthal and other members of congress are already shaming the settlement. The former saying that the FTC has failed miserable and latter commenting that the decision is ‘historically hollow’ and ‘inadequate’.

The question here arises that why fines like these that are more of a slap on the wrist are being imposed on these global tech giants?

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