Facebook’s Past Comes Back To Bite As South Korea Fines Them For 2018 Scandal

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The social media behemoth Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has once again proved they are the true arch-nemesis of modern-day user-privacy!

In recent news, it has been discovered that the social media platform has been fined a whopping $6 million in South Korea for sharing users’ data without their consent.

According to the country’s Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC), the Mark Zuckerberg led U.S based social media giant knowingly shared the data of close to 3.3 million Korean users to outsider companies without their permission between the time period May 2012 to June 2018.

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The Korea Communication Commission, which is South Korea’s telecommunication regulator, started the investigation against Facebook in 2018 when the social media giant was subsequently also being investigated for the Cambridge Analytica scandal. A few months later, the regulator handed the case to PIPC after which the investigation has finally come to an end after two entire years.

Besides imposing the $6.1 million fine, the South Korean Commission said it would also be filing a criminal complaint against the U.S tech giant for breaking their country’s local personal information laws.

The range of data points which Facebook shared with third-party companies is reported to being usernames, academic history, job history, hometown/address, and relationship statuses.

PIPC said that the social media platform served all such critical private information to outsider apps when users logged into them using their Facebook account as a login method. Also, along with it, the personal information of the friends of users logging into the third party apps was shared as well.

The South Korean Commission, in a statement about the same, said that while a user who logged in with their Facebook account might have agreed to share their information with a particular service, but their friends didn’t. Therefore it was a gross violation of user-privacy in a widespread manner.

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The third-party apps which were back then minting a ton of information from Facebook used it to make highly customised advertisements to target specific groups of people which in turn also led to the dirty money flowing into the coffers of Facebook as ad revenue. The PIPC believes Facebook was the ultimate culprit among all other parties involved as it was their platform wherein the entire fiasco took place.

Additionally, the Commission alleged that the social media giant happened to store user password without encryption and didn’t notify users when they accessed private information about them.

Lastly, to make things even worse, PPIC said Facebook gave them false or incomplete documents during the investigation in order to get away with it. Thus, this is why there are talks of an additional 66 million won to be added for the unnecessary obstruction.

When reached out to Facebook for a comment about this recent decision, the company said that they had fully cooperated with the investigation of Korea’s PPIC. Thus they find the criminal complaint filed by the Commission deeply regrettable. They also said that Facebook would first be reviewing the Commission’s decision and only then respond to it in an appropriate manner.

This is not the first time when the social media behemoth is accused of sharing their users’ data without their consent and getting penalised for the same. In the past, Facebook faced severe criticism in multiple countries for similar mishaps which was led to a whopping $5 billion fine by the US authorities in 2019.

However, after the authorities in various countries tightened the noose, Facebook assured them for not following such practice any further. No wonder Facebook is crowed with least trusted social media network by users when it comes to safeguarding their personal information.

$6.1 million fine on Facebook is like a cumin seed in a camel’s mouth. Still, we hope that such repeated fines that Facebook is made to cough up will have far reaching impact.

We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

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