Facebook Expects Record Fine Up to $5 Billion From FTC for Privacy Violations

Illustration for article titled Facebook Expects Record Fine Up to $5 Billion From FTC for Privacy Violations
Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty)

Facebook expected expenses of $3-5 billion in its ongoing case with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations, the company announced on Wednesday in its financial earnings report.


The fine is a record for the FTC and represents at most a third of quarterly earnings for the Silicon Valley giant who brought in approximately $15 billion in revenue the first quarter of 2019.

“The matter remains unresolved and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome,” the company’s financial results said.

The company is under FTC investigation for allegedly violating a 2011 privacy “consent decree” requiring Facebook to notify users and the FTC and to obtain consent from users before sharing data beyond privacy settings. In 2018, it was reported that Facebook allowed an app developer working with Cambridge Analytica to download data on millions of data, as well as news of a data breach impacting over 50 million people. Last March, the Washington Post reported that Facebook’s penalties could add up to “trillions of dollars” if the agreement were enforced to its maximum extent.

Facebook’s sales hit $15.1 billion, slightly topping predictions as the network grew to 1.56 billion users per day and rose eight percent to 2.38 billion users per month.

The company’s costs rose 80.5 percent to $11.76 billion, a rise reflecting investments in content, security and AI across platforms.

Wall Street reacted by pushing Facebook’s stock up nearly six percent.




Reporter in Silicon Valley. Contact me: Email poneill@gizmodo.com, Signal +1-650-488-7247


Mireille is sensational, like a She-Hulk

Something is seriously out of kilter when $5 billion can be written off as the cost of doing business, when a fine of that size does not actually affect the methods of operation of a company. I believe we need to get to a point where the size of a fine is determined by how much it would cost to make the offending action unprofitable. So however much they made doing X, they lose that money + 10%. Banks like JPMorgan Chase could look at fines in the 10s to 100s of billions. Until it hurts, such enforcement actions will be meaningless displays of theater.