Facebook’s headaches aren’t over – $5B fine isn’t end to investigations


Facebook may be close to leaving an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. But it faces a variety of other probes in Europe and the United States, some of which could present even greater headaches.

While the FTC's $ 5 billion fine, which Facebook has been waiting for, is by far the largest the agency has imposed on a technology company, the real concerns for Facebook, and its investors and companies who use it to advertise their service. are the other restrictions and the government supervision that could come with it. This also applies to the other investigations, which span the world from the European Union, Germany and Belgium to New York, Canada and elsewhere.

"This good signal indicates that regulators are increasing the pressure," said Dimitri Sirota, CEO of BigID, a business data privacy company, in an email. He said that the FTC's action, along with the recent European fines to British Airways and Marriott, shows that regulators around the world are becoming more aggressive to crack down on violations of data privacy. Facebook may think that the fine is easily affordable, he said, but it hurts his image and reliability.

Facebook set a record $ 5 billion fine for its privacy flaws

Beyond regulatory research, Cowen badyst John Blackledge noted that Facebook and other large companies also face broader competition concerns.

Facebook has enjoyed more than a decade of unrestricted growth as the golden child of Silicon Valley, who is trusted to regulate and maintain the interests of its 2.4 billion users at the heart.

Then came the Russian meddling in the 2016 election, fake news and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a political data mining company affiliated with Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign had undue access to personal data of up to 87 millions of users.

Regulators, mainly in Europe but also in the US, were encouraged. And now Facebook faces the possibility of not only billions more in fines, but additional restrictions on your business.

Irish Data Protection Commission

Ireland's data regulator launched a Facebook investigation into the Cambridge Analytica data leak last year. The question is whether the company complied with the strict European regulations that came into force in May 2018 and that cover data protection. Under the new rules, companies could receive fines equivalent to 4 percent of annual global billing for the most serious violations.

The research could potentially cost Facebook more than $ 2.3 billion in fines based on its 2018 income, or more if it earns more money this year, which is almost certain. The commission, which handles online data regulation for the European Union, has almost a dozen open investigations on Facebook that include its WhatsApp and Instagram subsidiaries, which could include more. Facebook says it is cooperating with the investigations.

Housing and Urban Development of the United States.

The US government accused Facebook of high-tech housing discrimination in March for allegedly allowing homeowners and real estate brokers to systematically exclude groups such as non-Christians, immigrants and minorities from seeing ads of houses and apartments

The civil charges filed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development could cost the social network millions of dollars in fines. And what is more important, they are already affecting the business model of the company, its ability to guide advertisements with almost surgical precision. By its nature, this type of orientation excludes some people and includes others. And that is not always legal.

The charges came despite the changes that Facebook announced a week earlier in its ad targeting system. The company agreed to revise its targeting system and abandon some of the practices outlined by HUD to prevent discrimination, not only in housing listings, but also in credit and employment announcements. The measure was part of an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union and other activists. But HUD did not join the agreement. Facebook says it continues to work with civil rights experts on these issues.

Czar of Canada's privacy

Beyond Cambridge Analytica, Canada's privacy chief announced in April that he will take Facebook to court after discovering that lax privacy practices allowed the use of personal information for political purposes.

A joint report from privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien and his counterpart from British Columbia said the main shortcomings were discovered in Facebook's procedures. Stronger laws were called for to protect Canadians. Facebook says it is taking research seriously.

U.K., Belgium, Germany

In October, British regulators slapped Facebook with a fine of 500,000 pounds ($ 644,000), the maximum possible, for failing to protect the privacy of its users in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company said it is appealing the fine, so the matter remains unresolved technically.

The Belgian Data Protection Authority and the Federal Cartel office in Germany are also investigating Facebook's data collection practices.

Washington D.C., state attorneys general

If federal investigations were not enough, Facebook also faces local government agencies. The attorneys general of Washington, DC and California are investigating Cambridge Analytica, while the Attorney General of New York is investigating the unauthorized collection of the company's 1.5 million user contact lists. Facebook said it is working with the New York attorney general's office and that the collection was not intentional. He also says that he is cooperating with the other attorneys general in his investigations.


Although the scope of its participation in the FTC's investigation is not clear, Facebook has confirmed that it has received questions from the FBI and the Cambridge Analytica Securities and Exchange Commission and that it is cooperating with the investigation.

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