Facebook set to pay multi-billion dollar fine to settle US FTC privacy probe

The FTC has imposed the penalty after investigating into the social network's data privacy practices

Facebook icon displayed on a smartphone before a screen with the full logo

Facebook has agreed to pay a fine imposed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to avoid further investigations into its privacy practices, it has been revealed.

According to the Washington Post, the fine is currently being negotiated but is likely to be a multi-billion dollar sanction, one of the largest ever paid by a technology company, which could also result in Facebook having to seriously re-evaluate its data practices.

The investigation by the US trade regulator began in the immediate aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that charged Facebook with improperly sharing the data of 87 million Facebook users. The FTC is now looking into Facebook's entire data processing methods and could force the social network to radically change the way it uses member data.

"Facebook faces a moment of reckoning and the only way it will come is through an FTC order with severe penalties and other sanctions that stop this kind of privacy misconduct going forward," Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal told the Washington Post.

Although both Facebook and the FTC have confirmed the talks have been happening, neither company has specifically commented on the investigation, nor will they say how much the fine is likely to be. However, it's thought to be in the billions, making it the biggest penalty in history a tech firm has been charged for not properly using data.

"It is an open question at this moment in time whether the Federal Trade Commission is an effective privacy agency, and it is also an open question as to whether the FTC is willing to use its current authority to safeguard consumer privacy in the United States," said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told the Washington Post.

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