Last month, we told you that Facebook charged $ 3 billion of its first-quarter earnings. The company made this accounting position in anticipation of a $ 3 to $ 5 billion fine from the FTC in connection with the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It has been reported that 87 million Facebook users have their personal profiles sold by a third party to the now-defunct consulting firm without their consent. This violates a FTC approval decree that Facebook signed in 2011. By decree, Facebook was required not to share the profiles of its subscribers without permission Times reports. The newspaper cites a trio of anonymous sources familiar with the discussions of the commissioners. They said that a few months ago, the five FTC commissioners had agreed to hit Facebook with a "historic punishment" that matched the severity of the Facebook crime. Now, however, it seems that the Commissioners are fighting among themselves and fail to reach a consensus on how much the fine can be pulled out of the company.
Apart from the punishment of Facebook, two of the anonymous sources say that the commissioners are split with Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The question is how much should he be punished and personally blamed for the use of these user profiles. The company says Zuckerberg should not be held responsible for the actions of its 35,000 employees.
"This is an extremely important decision as all big companies will be watching to see if there really is a new day on the enforcement front." – Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
It is said that the FTC stands in the forefront before a decision, and an announcement could take days. The fine will easily be the largest ever demanded by a tech company by an FTC. In 2012, Google was fined $ 22.5 million. In this case, the FTC found that Google had overridden the privacy settings of Apple's Safari browser. This enabled the search giant to track users as they made their way through the Internet.
Some expect that the ultimate punishment of Facebook is just a slap on the wrist. However, a $ 5 billion fine would make up a good third of the company's first quarter revenue. It would also account for approximately 9% of Facebook's 2018 sales of $ 55.8 billion. That would be even more than the 4% of revenue that companies can be fined for violations of the EU Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The scheme came into force last year and requires a company to obtain the consent of a consumer living in the EU before using their personal information.