Facebook is facing severe scrutiny as the Federal Trade Commission is looking into whether the tech giant violated a consent decree when they allowed Cambridge Analytica to use data from over 40 million social media users. But as Facebook’s stock drops and the CEO is summoned by Congress, the tech giant is passing the blame.
A spokesman for the FTC said that the commission was “aware of the issues that have been raised but cannot comment on whether we are investigating.”
The spokesman continued to say that they “take any allegations of violations of our consent decrees very seriously as we did in 2012 in a privacy case involving Google.”
Earlier this week, the tech giant went on the record to state they expect the FTC to reach out to them, but they were unsure if a formal probe would be launched.
If the commission finds Facebook is at fault for violating the consent decree that the tech giant signed in 2011, they could face some pretty severe penalties. In fact, each violation would cost Facebook $40,000, which could add to be millions of dollars before it is all said and done.
Facebook officials have also been summoned by Congress to brief them on the alleged violations and what steps they are taking to correct them.
However, Facebook is pointing the fingers Cambridge Analytica and an application developer by the name of Aleksandr Kogan and asserts that they mishandled the data.
Facebook told reporters over the weekend that they “reject any suggestion of violation of the consent decree. We respected the privacy settings that people had in place.”
The tech giant went on to argue, “Privacy and data protections are fundamental to every decision we make.”
Oh, yeah? Like the time they turned a blind eye when they knew the Obama administration was using their data to reach hidden voters who lived in cellular shadows without cell phones? Come on.
According to the consent decree, Facebook is required to notify users in order to receive permission before sharing personal data beyond their privacy settings. However, that clearly did not happen with the Cambridge Analytica.
On the other hand, according to the New York Times, Facebook users opted-in and permitted access to their data, without knowing, when Kogan developed a psychology quiz app that many users participated in.
After she acquired their data she passed it Cambridge Analytica. Alas, the users did not know about the passing of their data on to Cambridge Analytica, and that is where the violation took place.
Nonetheless, Facebook officials, such as the deputy chief privacy officer, claim that the company remains “strongly committed to protecting people’s information.”
“We appreciate the opportunity to answer questions the FTC may have,” he added.
Facebook held an internal meeting so that their employees could ask questions about the probe and the FTC’s complaints. But many are wondering what the company will do next to prevent this type of violation from happening in the future.
Billions of Facebook users depend on the social network to keep their data safe. This is a heinous breach of trust that needs to be addressed swiftly and firmly.
As a result of the probe, Facebook is also hurting financially. In fact, shares of Facebook almost 10% on Monday and investors are concerned that shares will continue to see a decline as this investigation continues.
What’s more, criticism of Facebook is coming from both sides of the political aisle. In fact, Senator Mark Warner said that he would like to hear directly from Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.
However, Sen. Richard Burr said any decision about calling Zuckerberg to appear before Congress is way down the road.
Furthermore, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters earlier this week that she has “grown increasingly concerned as we’re learning more and more about the manipulation of data, the harvesting of data from Facebook, the ads that were placed to sow the seeds of discord in this country.”
“I believe that Facebook, Twitter, the other social media platforms have a lot of questions to answer,” she added.
But it is not only America that is concerned with the tech giants alleged misuse of data. UK officials are also looking into the complaints and have even ordered Zuckerberg to provide evidence for review to determine if there was any mishandling of data.