Facebook Could Face Large Fine Over Cambridge Analytica

The Federal Trade Commission has reportedly discussed a “record-setting” fine for Facebook over its privacy practices.

News of the potential fine, reported Friday afternoon by the Washington Post, comes one day after two Senators asked the FTC about the status of its probe of the social media company.

The possible fine apparently stems from last year's revelations that the defunct data consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested data from up to 87 million Facebook users. The FTC said last March that it was investigating whether the data transfers violated a 2012 consent decree that prohibits Facebook from misrepresenting its privacy practices, and from misrepresenting the extent to which it makes users' information available to third parties.

Cambridge Analytica received the data from researcher Aleksandr Kogan, who obtained the information in 2014 through the personality-quiz app "thisisyourdigitallife." Only 270,000 Facebook users downloaded Kogan's app, but he was able to gather data about many of those users' contacts.

The FTC hasn't yet finalized its plans, according to the Washington Post.

The advocacy group Free Press on Friday called for Congress to also move against Facebook. “Serious consequences are the only way to curb Facebook’s predatory behavior and change the industry’s amoral pursuit of growth at the public's expense,” policy counsel Gaurav Laroia said in a statement. He added that a fine by the FTC “should be the first of many taken by regulators and Congress in response to online platforms’ systemic abuse of their users.”

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