Facebook: A record fine doesn’t mollify critics
A $5 billion fine for Facebook from the Federal Trade Commission last week won’t get the social media giant “out of the political hot seat,” said Ryan Tracy and Jeff Horwitz in The Wall Street Journal. The fine, for Facebook’s role in allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest millions of users’ “personal data to help political campaigns influence voters,” is the biggest the U.S. ever levied on a tech company. But Facebook made $15 billion in revenue in the first quarter alone, and lawmakers see the penalty as paltry. So it’s unlikely to end either “ongoing scrutiny of Facebook’s past privacy missteps” or calls to rein in the company’s market dominance.
The government “spent months coming up with a punishment for Facebook’s long list of privacy-related bad behavior,” said Nilay Patel in TheVerge.com, “and the best it could do was so weak” that Facebook’s stock actually went up after reports of the fine. Yes, the settlement stipulates that Facebook now has to “document how it plans to use data before it launches new products.” But that hardly prevents it from collecting and sharing data or dings its lucrative ad business. Facebook will happily “pay the fine, eat the cost of a few more lawyers and PR people,” and carry on business as usual. ■