back to article Four US govt agencies poke probe in Facebook following more 'oops, we spilled your data' shocks

No less than four federal agencies in the US are now investigating Facebook following yet more revelations over how it gave vast quantities of personal data to developers. As well as the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the FBI, and America's financial watchdog the Securities and Exchange Commission ( …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The investigations have also been expanded to look at what Facebook executives knew, when they knew it, and what they did in response, including their public statements.

    Good luck. Any incriminating evidence is long gone, or moved where US investigators will never find it. These Keystone Kops couldn't find Hillary's email server, and it was only managed by a private contractor. Imagine the hurdles and holes that one of the world's top tech companies can generate to obfuscate and hide any data they don't want found.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Imagine the hurdles and holes that one of the world's top tech

      It is much easier to find a whistleblower in such a company compared to a private contractor blowing whistle on himself. So actually, the Keystone Cops chances are not that bad.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'It is much easier to find a whistleblower in such a company'

      Could be a whistleblower that eventually does Zuckbook in. But it would require an equivalent to SEC whistleblower rewards. So near term, GDPR NOYB lawyers are still our best hope. The problem is, it all takes time. Meanwhile the Wild Wild West of Slurp rolls on.

      US Govt fined the hell out of VW for rigging emissions. But they won't go all medieval on Zuck's ass. So we need to see fear in the eyes of investors. Money has no morals. They're the truly evil one. They've no voting rights vs Zuk, fear would make them pull $$$ out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'It is much easier to find a whistleblower in such a company'

        US Govt fined the hell out of VW for rigging emissions

        You may be right. I know the EU has been waiting for a big fish to make an example of to prove they were serious about GDPR fines. I'm guessing FB is certainly on their shortlist..

        1. My-Handle Silver badge

          Re: 'It is much easier to find a whistleblower in such a company'

          I'm of the opinion that GDPR was designed specifically for Facebook. Once it landed, Facebook had two choices. 1: Clean up their act, or 2. Risk a massive fine. I'm betting a number of EU politicians were banking on FB not being able to kick the addiction. Myself, I'm not wondering whether Facebook will be caught by GDPR, I'm wondering how many times it will be caught.

          Popcorn at the ready.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      "Any incriminating evidence is long gone"

      Depends. If the SEC is involved, there will be official statements to investors, mandatory reports, etc. etc.

      And actually it's far easier to destroy a single server that tons of documents on several ones, even when you're Facebook - and someone could have kept a copy of compromising ones to save his or her butts if indicted.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There is the prospect of some serious and I mean 20+ years for the likes of Zuck I think that after a year or so, it will be quietly dropped. Money talks especially when directed towards politicians re-election campaigns.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unless...

      Only in solitary. Even if Zuck doesn't, we have to think about the human rights of the prisoners too, and exposing them to Zuck just like that is really not fair on them.

  3. Teiwaz Silver badge

    This guy actually thought he could be US president ... Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg

    Still might, the voting public tends to have short memories, especially when it comes to the circus that is election fever - guess it's just an enduring amateur drama that (almost) everyone wants to pick a side and join in (bar the hopelessly sane or terminally cynical).

  4. Drew Scriver Silver badge

    Since US Representatives are supposed to represent their voters, how likely is it that they will indeed hold Facebook's feet to the fire? If they threw the book at them and Facebook is dismantled, their constituents, the majority of whom cannot fathom their lives without Facebook, would be rather displeased.

    Facebook's business model and market value is based on monetizing the data and private information of those very constituents. Thwarting that would akin to banning TV commercials on commercial TV stations.

    Just as the average viewer does not realize that commercial TV is watching commercials interrupted by 'programming', they do not realize that without the ability to monetize their private information Facebook could not survive.

    Even scarier is that many younger people don't even understand the concept of privacy and they fail to see any value in protecting it.

    Combine that with the government's own desire to track as much as they can and this whole political effort is likely no more than an elaborate show.

    Wouldn't be surprised if the policy makers strike some kind of deal that allows Facebook to continue on the current track as long as they give the three-letter agencies access to the data.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Wouldn't be surprised if the policy makers strike some kind of deal that allows Facebook to continue on the current track as long as they give the three-letter agencies access to the data.

      Unlikely to work, as the TLAs already have widely documented access to that data.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Think the sub-title should be changed

    “Oops we spewed it again!” - like a teen dreams of Britney, US .gov agencies look to give Facebook a probing!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Families using Facebook-Stasi

    Feels like parents are condemning their kids them to some god awful future Stasi-like state-surveillance / interference... For what? Some convenience / cheap tech today. Its a pretty dangerous tradeoff. At least go down to the crossroads and get killer guitar chops if you want to trade with the devil etc...

  7. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    The End of the Beginning?

    Having seen a couple of cycles of this where a new company gets very large and powerful in a poorly regulated area and abuse their power it seems like Suckerberg is heady to a nasty wake up call. There is a cycle to these things: Wild West Era then the Great Awakening followed by some form of regulation. The Wild West Era is ending as it always does. During the Great Awakening the public and politicians get an education of how badly they have been lied to. Regulations and laws will follow with their severity a reaction to the arrogance of the target. Suckerberg is too young to have really been through a couple of these cycles and his arrogant bravado rubs others the wrong way. This will make the regulatory regime harsh; probably harsher than necessary.

    1. Fungus Bob

      Re: The End of the Beginning?

      When it comes to Facebook, there is no such thing as 'harsher than necessary'.

  8. onefang

    "In reality, the FTC can't impose a fine that would effectively put an American tech goliath out of business"

    Um, why not? If Facebook have done enough illegal nasties that they 'could face a fine that totals "more money than there is on the planet."', then they really should be stomped into the ground very hard. This is "make an example of them" territory, so that no one tries it again, thinking "hey we can make mega profits doing what Zuck did".

    I'm guessing the answer is that an American tech goliath has paid enough American dollars to enough American politicians...

    Nuke 'em from orbit, on live TV / radio / Facebook streaming, etc.

    1. Remy Redert

      Fortunately, what the US might not want to do, plenty of national regulators here in the EU would love to do now that they've got a big enough stick with GDPR.

    2. Falmari Bronze badge

      I agree if a company breaks the law they should suffer the full force of the penalty.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        A company is not only its CEO and some executives - putting it out of business will also mean less rich employees will also lose their job - and maybe there's also an amendment about "excessive fines"... although "cruel and unusual punishment" may be what people like Zuckerberg deserves... i.e. traveling by foot to apologize personally with each Facebook "user".

        Anyway, don't worry. Zuckerberg will tell they are a "communication company" so it's the FCC that must handle any issue. Ajit Pai will asks for comments, and four hundred billions Americans will tell everything's fine as it is. Those against will be discarded as an "hacking attempt".

  9. Peter 39

    Open ? Shmopen

    "Facebook is now – finally – being open about ..."

    Pure BS. They might be more "open" than before but anyone who thinks that this is 100% transparency needs to get a brain transplant.

  10. Winkypop Silver badge

    Just so glad I never drank the FB Koolaid

    Hens coming home to roost --->

    (Or Penguins, if they roost)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just so glad I never drank the FB Koolaid

      > Hens coming home to roost

      Lets not count our chickens before they've hatched.

      There's plenty of scope for FB to weasel their way out of things to a substantial degree.

      We can count the chickes when the whole thing is over.

  11. jonathan keith


    Surely just a coincidence that last night was the first time I've ever seen a TV ad for Facebook. The message was almost entirely focussed on cleaning up the platform and protecting peoples' privacy, with a very mild nod to the admission that FB might not have quite met those targets in the past.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not just Facebook that has been dishonest

    I contacted my phone manufacturer over a year ago about them accessing our social media data.

    Not only did they deny they had access on multiple occassions, one of their technical support reps actually made the statement that accessing our social media data would be "illegal".

    Things are about to get real interesting.

  13. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    could face a fine that totals "more money than there is on the planet."

    I now understand Trump's cunning plan to finance the US Space Marine Expeditionary Orbital Forces.

  14. LucreLout Silver badge

    More El Reg B.S.

    And to be frank, when it all does emerge, a lot of academics and some tech press – and we include ourselves in that – will be fully justified in standing up and exclaiming: "We told you so."

    And yet almost directly below that, we have El Regs facebook link. How, how on Earth can The Register not be more embarassed at the blatant hipocrisy in it's facebook articles?

    I'm quite happy if we kill facebook with fire - hell, take off and nuke it from orbit; it's the only way to be sure. But to bang the drum against them while directly supporting their revenue stream is... well, come on El Reg, what do you define that as?

  15. Rich 2 Silver badge

    Can't the gov stop Faecesbook trading until this is all cleared up?

    Such action might finally force FB to cooperate - well, they wouldn't have anything else to do, would they?

    Or, as has been mentioned above, just nuke the shit out of them

  16. MichaelAngelo


    They are just plain playing with us. This crap is getting ridiculous.

    What they have to do, so the people will fight with them?

    They are using our PRIVATE date to manipulate us. You can't say something to your friend on Facebook, you can't write smth, you event cant browse the web and go on Faceboook, because they will take EVERYTHING you saw.

  17. Tree

    You are responsible

    Do not trust FaceBUTT with any of your info. Gurgle is even worse about collecting all about us. I've heard people say they trust them, but not NSA, Chi-coms, or other governments. The problem with that idea is that your government agency likely slurps up whatever these entities collect about us. Never use Google search, Chrome, or G-mail. PaleMoon is a safer browser. Keep your add-ons like uBlock Origen up to date. Never use Facebook.

  18. Tree

    NSA admits massive call slurp

    When they have it, they should not give it to Zuckerberg. Are we reading Peter Strzok's text messages because of this? The California legislature has passed incomprehensible laws to supposedly protect our privacy. These politicians did not trust the public to vote on a privacy referendum. The fourth amendment to the US Constitutuion bans seizures without a warrant. Who has access to these calls and texts?

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