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As Facebook Gets Hit With $5 Billion Fine From The FTC, Critics Say Regulators Are Rolling Over For The Tech Giant

The Federal Trade Commission voted Friday to slap Facebook with a $5 billion fine over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the largest penalty the FTC has ever handed down to a tech company. 

Facebook had allowed data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica to collect data on millions of Americans without their knowledge or consent. The FTC had been examining Facebook’s role in the scandal since March 2018. 

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The Freedom From Facebook coalition called the FTC fine on Facebook, a “slap on the wrist” and said that “[President] Trump’s FTC Commissioners rolled over for the monopoly.”  

A $5 billion fine is not considered a steep penalty for Facebook, as the social media giant made a profit on $22 billion last year on $56 billion in revenue.

The FTC Commissioners were divided along party lines, 3-2, with Republican commissioners supporting the measure and the Democratic commissioners against it. 

Some members of Congress also believe the measure doesn’t go far enough, and that Facebook will need to make reforms to better protect the privacy of its users. 

“Given Facebook’s repeated privacy violations, it is clear that fundamental structural reforms are required,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA., said. “With the FTC either unable or unwilling to put in place reasonable guardrails to ensure that user privacy and data are protected, it’s time for Congress to act.”

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren also chimed in, saying that the “FTC should break Facebook up, plain and simple.”

Facebook has previously tried to rebuke concerns about user privacy on its platform by saying that there is “no reasonable expectation of privacy” when it comes to the use of social media. “There is no invasion of privacy at all, because there is no privacy,” Facebook counsel Orin Snyder said in May.

Congress grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in April 2018 over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Zuckerberg said the company made a “big mistake” by not “taking a broad enough” view of its responsibility towards protecting the data of its users. 

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