Facebook reportedly may agree to pay a “multi-billion dollar” fine to settle a privacy investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.
The tech company and FTC are still in talks, and it's not yet clear whether Facebook will agree to all of the agency's settlement terms, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the potential deal.
The FTC began investigating Facebook last year, shortly after it emerged that the consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested data from up to 87 million Facebook users.
Those data transfers may have 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.
The FTC isn't empowered to fine companies solely over privacy violations, but can fine companies for failing to comply with consent decrees.
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.
In April of 2015, Facebook stopped allowing developers to access data about users' friends. But in 2014, when Kogan's app scraped the data, Facebook allowed developers to glean information about users' friends, subject to their privacy settings. Facebook's terms of service prohibited developers from sharing that information.
The company -- which also faces a potential class-action lawsuit in the Northern District of California -- has argued that Facebook's users allowed their data to be shared with outside developers.
"Facebook users (like users of apps on other platforms) consent to their data being shared with third-party apps or have the option to turn off such sharing entirely," the company argued to U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria, who is presiding over the class-action litigation.