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Facebook accepts $5 billion fine over privacy violations

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Jenna Delport
Jenna Delport
I’m a tech writer, world traveller, avocado-eater and dog lover, not always in that order.
Facebook accepts $5 billion fine over privacy violations
Facebook accepts $5 billion fine over privacy violations.

Social media giant, Facebook, has agreed to pay a record $5 billion fine — the biggest fine ever imposed over users’ privacy. The settlement announced on Wednesday, 24 July 2019, is said to resolve the US Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) investigation into years worth of privacy violations. 

The FTC reported that Facebook had been ‘deceptive’ in its practice towards tens of millions of users. The company violated the law by failing to protect private data from third parties, used phone numbers obtained to enable security features for advertising and lied about facial recognition features being turned off by default. 

“Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they could control how personal information is shared Facebook undermined consumers’ choices,” says FTC Chairman Joe Simons. 

The fine is not the only thing Facebook will have to account for as the FTC has also called for an independent committee of directors to oversee privacy matters — “the Order imposes a privacy regime that includes a new corporate governance structure, with corporate and individual accountability and more rigorous compliance monitoring”.

“The magnitude of the $5 billion penalty and sweeping conduct relief are unprecedented in the history of the FTC. The relief is designed not only to punish future violations but, more importantly, to change Facebook’s entire privacy culture to decrease the likelihood of continued violations,” adds Simons.

In a statement released by Facebook, “the agreement will require a fundamental shift in the way we approach our work and it will place additional responsibility on people building our products at every level of the company. It will mark a sharper turn toward privacy, on a different scale than anything we’ve done in the past”.  

“We have heard that words and apologies are not enough and that we need to show action,” continues Facebook. “By resolving the FTC investigations, we hope to close this chapter and turn our focus and resources toward the future.”

By Jenna Cook

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