The Federal Trade Commission has reportedly voted to fine Facebook approximately $5 billion for running afoul of its consumer-privacy rules.
First reported by The Wall Street Journal on Friday, multiple media outlets have since heard the same news from sources.
Facebook announced in April that it expected to be fined billions of dollars by the FTC, which is hardly surprising. The agency has been investigating the company since the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted last year.
“The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome,” Facebook noted in its first-quarter earnings release, in April.
Of particular interest to the FTC has been the question of whether Facebook violated a 2011 agreement it made regarding the sharing of user data.
In response to Facebook's warning earlier this year, analysts have speculated this could have major implications for the company.
In addition to the billions in fines, “any settlement with the FTC may impact the ways advertisers can use the platform in the future,” eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson suggested at the time.
If the information that sources are feeding The Wall Street Journal and other publications is accurate, this would represent the largest privacy-related fine in the FTC's history.
Yet some policymakers in Washington don't think $5 billion is a large enough penalty for a company of Facebook's size and wealth.
“This fine is a fraction of Facebook’s annual revenue,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, tweeted on Friday. “It won't make them think twice about their responsibility to protect user data.”
During the first quarter, Facebook raked in more than $15 billion in revenue, while the company's total worth currently falls somewhere in the range of $580 billion.