back to article FTC fines Facebook $5bn for making users believe they actually had control over their data

Evil empire Facebook's devil-may-care attitude to privacy has bitten it on the backside – the Federal Trade Commission has imposed a record $5bn penalty for "deceiving users" about their control over private data. The FTC said the antisocial network violated a 2012 order by misleading members into thinking they were actually …

  1. devTrail

    What happened

    To describe in few words what happened I can say that Facebook used for political reasons the private details of their users in the UK (and probably the rest of the world) and now they are paying the damages to the US government.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: What happened

      Well now the FTC has successfully sued, that should set an easier precedent for other governments around the world to follow. I hope they do follow.

      Severe financial penalties and compliance regime, backed by strong criminal pentalties for responsible individuals failing to ensure compliance, in every country, seem the only way to rein this lot in. They made their bed playing fast and loose with user privacy, now let them lie in it.

      1. e^iπ+1=0

        strong criminal pentalties

        I like the sound of that.

        Jail for Zuck would be nice; at the very least a few hundred hours of community service.

        The fines are good, but not enough.

        1. NBCanuck

          Re: strong criminal pentalties

          "Jail for Zuck would be nice; at the very least a few hundred hours of community service."

          But he likely thinks that what he does IS community service.

        2. macjules

          Re: strong criminal pentalties

          Jail would be nice, in an not so nice sort of US penitentiary way. Even better would be the board of Facebook unanimously voting to remove Zuckerberg permanently from Facebook and its offices and then embarking on a restructuring to remove his "method" of management from the company.

  2. HarryPotterHasPTSD

    Please send check payable to......

    Where's my refund?


  3. el kabong

    Zuckerberg could easily win a Nobel Peace Prize

    All he had to do is shut facebook down, just that. Facebook is harmful to community it does people no good, the decision to shut facebook down would transform Zuckerberg form villain to world class hero, overnight.

    Shut facebook down, collect the Nobel Peace Prize, then try to fix facebook if at all possible. If successful (a long shot) put that fixed facebook back up again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Zuckerberg could easily win a Nobel Peace Prize

      Facebook more than anything reinforces how stupid and horrible most people are.

      1. Danny 14

        Re: Zuckerberg could easily win a Nobel Peace Prize

        Twitter takes that crown. Facebook has been useful as a way of getting companies to look at your complaint. Companies tend to acknowledge facebook faster than email, even if the freshly minted facebook account tracks back to 10minutemail

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Zuckerberg could easily win a Nobel Peace Prize

          >Twitter takes that crown.

          Fair enough but both are open puss filled sores on modern society.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Zuckerberg could easily win a Nobel Peace Prize

            puss filled sores

            Amusing misspelling - especially as cats (being primary carnivores) won't touch carrion or anything rotting unless they are really, really hungry..

            (A good methos of testing whether that cooked meat that's been in the fridge for a week is safe to eat is to offer it to a well-fed cat (their sense of smell isn't a good as a dogs but it's a magnitude better than ours). If the cat won't touch it then it's probably not safe.. Don't try this technique with a dog..)

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Zuckerberg could easily win a Nobel Peace Prize

      " the decision to shut facebook down would transform Zuckerberg form villain to world class hero, overnight."

      Actually it wouldn't make him a hero, just an ex-villain and the defendant in a class action from the shareholders who'd want their money back.

  4. Ilsa Loving

    Not enough

    Facebook squirreled away funds for this exact situation. They *anticipated* that this would happened. That means this is nothing more than the 'cost of doing business'.

    In addition, based on their performance in the past with companies like Microsoft, I have zero faith that these supposed measures will accomplish anything of value. Facebook will pay lipservice to the FTC and carry on as before.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Not enough


      Well said!

      Facebook squirreled away funds for this exact situation. They *anticipated* that this would happened. That means this is nothing more than the 'cost of doing business'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "based on their performance in the past with companies like Microsoft"

      Actually, there are evidences that even if Microsoft was broken up it had to become much more careful and its behaviour inevitably changed. And it had to publish its protocols which lead to far better interoperability with Linux and the then new mobile platforms. Nor they could find ways to crush the new browsers.

      Investigation after investigation, and fine after fine, should make Zuckerberg & Sandberg a little more careful too.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Not enough

      The money they "squirrelled away" had to come from somewhere. It would be money that might otherwise have been paid as dividends or invested in some other nastiness aspect of the business.

      Of course it's a cost of doing business. A business has only costs*, income and profits or losses which are the difference between the first two. Yes, a fine adds to the costs. It's intended to. What did you think it should have done?

      * It has capital from investors and maybe borrowings but these exist to cover the costs until the income rolls in.

  5. Tom 38

    Facebook will also be ordered to detail events when 500 or more users' data has been compromised, along with its efforts to deal with the incident within 30 days of discovery.

    If that data is subject to GDPR, they've got 72 hours to inform regulators and users when 1 or more users' data has been compromised. Good job BoJo is going to save us from this red-tape ridiculousness!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You might be wrong. Johnson has been deriving most of his income from the "Daily Telegraph" (the clue to the approach to technology is in the title) whose owners not only opposed the EU and the Euro but also dismissed the Internet. I suspect that shutting down those upstart companies in the US would do wonders for the Barclays's business model.

      The only concessions with the GDPR will be massive derogations for the security services and anything that might sound like phone hacking.

  6. cs9

    Record fines aside --

    It's still more profitable for FB to pay the fines and keep mining gold out of that data. Business as usual expected to continue.

  7. a_yank_lurker


    Only a couple of orders of magnitude too low. And Suckerberg should executed for crimes against humanity.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wasn't it so...

    ...that after the 5 bn deal was struck, their shares value rose by 6 bn ?


    1. el kabong

      Why stop there, why not make that win-win even bigger?

      facebook shares rising by $6bn on a $5bn fine? That's great, give it another fine but bigger for a bigger share price rise. Better still, do it multiple times.

      Even better, why not put facebook inside a virtuous loop?

      10 if Big fine Then Big share price rise

      20 GoTo 10

      facebook shareholders will thank you for it.

      P.S. If Mexico won't pay for the wall then zuck will (got that one from comment below)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So THAT'S how we're going to pay for the wall. Thanks, Zuck!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The default privacy settings should be to share nothing and then opt in to what you do want to share.

    And make those opt in's as difficult and convoluted to find as opt outs are now !

  11. The_Idiot

    "These orders mean Facebook will...

    "... be forced to make its execs accountable for the decisions they make"

    And the fact that this can be stated as something to be imposed, and not something automatic and explicit across all execs in all companies in all industries is itself a huge part of the problem - at least, in my view.

    "Oh, we broke the law? Ah. Oops. Well, we didn't mean it, honest. Here's some money. So that's alright then, right?" No. It isn't. You broke the law? Go to court, get found guilty and go to jail.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another Interpretation

    Look what the FTC under this administration has done = It's reelection season

    Facebook's transgressions = a pot hole

    Government allows obvious problems to fester until it is useful to fix them.

    In our neck of the woods the roads don't get repaired until the campaign yard signs go up.

  13. NeilPost Silver badge

    EU and ICO

    How about another £5bn by the ICO and €10bn by the EU???

    1. EnviableOne

      Re: EU and ICO

      unfortunatley the way GDPR is worded, it would only be one fine and would be dependant on the Irish Data Protection Authority actually fining anyone (they'd be lead as Facebook inc. is HQ in Ireland)

      1. Danny 14

        Re: EU and ICO

        GDPR can be used by member countries though so that 10bn in Ireland, 10bn in France, 10bn in germany etc. It is up to the member countries to determine what they do.

  14. gungho

    Can the £5bn be given to the users ?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      No, fines are criminal sanctions, compensation is a civil sanction. They are two separate areas of law. The fact that a fine has been made doesn't prevent users suing, either individually or in bulk if they have a case in law after T&Cs are taken into consideration.

  15. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    The snark is strong

    "All in all, this is long overdue and may finally help to curb Facebook's utter disregard for privacy."

    in this one...

  16. Securitymoose

    So who gets the money?

    Certainly not the millions of people who have suffered the compromise. One bunch of crooks fining another bunch of crooks? And we worry about bank accounts and phone scams - this is big league stuff.

    1. MrMerrymaker

      Re: So who gets the money?

      Civil suits welcome I'd imagine... If I used the damn thing I'd consider suing, although my money is on nobody doing it

  17. C_D

    Third largest IPO, First largest fines. Looks good.

    Or maybe shareholders of a morally bankrupt enterprise should be made PERSONALLY liable for the legal & compliance incompetence of the enterprise.

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