Facebook Penalized $5bn On Privacy Issues, To Form Independent Committee

Social media giant Facebook has been fined $5 billion by Federal Trade Commission of US to settle concerns related to privacy. It has also insisted that Facebook should setup a privacy committee that is independent of the control of its CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The firm was under continuous scrutiny of FTC after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke out about exposure of private data of 87 million FB users and then continued to include recent issues like facial recognition. The imposition of $5 billion fine is the highest ever imposed on any IT firm for violation of users’ privacy till date.

While announcing the fine FTC Chairman Joe Simons told that the heavy fine was imposed as Facebook failed to protect the personal information of its users despite making several promises. He hoped this will change the firm’s privacy policy and systems and reduce the likelihood of frequent violations. The firm’s financial results which were announced this week did not reflect any move by its users to leave the platforms in large numbers due to privacy concerns. In fact it announced that its active users per month had risen by 8 % during second quarter.

The advertising revenues of Facebook too rose by 28 % which was much beyond forecasts by analysts. The Bureau of Consumer Protection that is part of FTC started investigating the activities of Facebook after it was revealed that users’ data was harvested and sold to data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica which was later illegally used to influence outcome of US Presidential elections in 2016 and also the Brexit referendum of UK. Further investigation revealed that several private players took advantage of Facebook’s weak security system to steal user data and target them for unauthorized advertisements. The FTC also discovered that several other private developers harvested user data for advertising purposes without explicit consent of Facebook or the users themselves due to flaws in its security.

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