For most of us the idea of getting slapped with a $5 billion fine would be incredibly bad news. But the Federal Trade Commission reportedly appro
For most of us the idea of getting slapped with a $5 billion fine would be incredibly bad news.
But the Federal Trade Commission reportedly approved a $5 billion settlement with Facebook to resolve its investigation into the social media behemoth’s privacy practices — stuff like the Cambridge Analytica scandal and others.
The reason seems obvious: while $5 billion is big money to you and me, it’s a bit over .85 percent of Facebook’s total value — or about the equivalent of one month of revenue.
If you make $100,000 a year, it’s the equivalent of about $8,000. Not nothing, obviously, but nowhere near the kind of blood that a lot of critics were hoping for.
As The Verge put it: “The biggest FTC fine in United States history increased Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth. What lesson would you learn from that? Would anyone?”
The FTC vote was 3 to 2, with all Republicans voting in favor of the settlement and the two Democrats voting against. (Both Facebook and the FTC declined comment to the Wall Street Journal, which originally broke the story.)
That seems out of whack with what’s been going on in Washington this week,
for instance after Facebook wasn’t even invited to attend the social media summit at the White House, President Trump almost immediately took to Twitter immediately afterward to trash the company’s plan to create a new cryptocurrency, Libra.
But it’s not just Republicans. Democrats in Congress called the settlement “chump change” and a “Christmas present,” as Politico compiled.
Facebook had been telling investors that it expected to have to pay a fine of between $3 billion and $5 billion over the scandals, but critics — for example Kara Swisher of Recode — say it would have to have been ten times that for it to affect Facebook in any meaningful way:
It’s a parking ticket. Not a speeding ticket. Not a DUI … A parking ticket.
To be clear, $5 billion is a lot of money. A lot of dough, clams, loot, lettuce, simoleons. But with apologies to that pissed-off shark in “Jaws,” they’re going to need a bigger fine if they actually want to stop Facebook from violating its users’ privacy.
This time, anyway, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.
That’s incredibly good news for Facebook. For everyone else, it’s just astounding.
Published on: Jul 13, 2019
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