Facebook is bracing itself for a colossal fine of up to $5 billion by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), according to its earnings report published on Wednesday. The fine would be the largest civil penalty ever enforced by the regulator, eclipsing Google’s $22.5m payout in 2012 over a privacy hack.
The social network commented: “We estimate that the range of loss in this matter is $3.0bn to $5.0bn. The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome.”
The FTC has been investigating Facebook since March 2018, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where the data of 87 million users was obtained without consent by a third party. This was a violation of the 2011 agreement with the FTC to protect user privacy.
Facebook is facing increasing regulatory pressure in the US and Europe over the firms breach of privacy laws. What’s more, legislation is being proposed in Australia and the UK to make social media firms more accountable for content posted on their site.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO, was quick to respond to any scepticism: “We are focused on building out our privacy-focused vision for the future of social networking, and working collaboratively to address important issues around the internet.”
Despite the on-going controversy, Facebook appear unfazed, reporting a 26% rise in revenues to $15.1bn in their first quarter 2019 report. Shares also increased more than 9% in after-hours trading on Wednesday.