Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg Reuters

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has voted to approve fining Facebook approximately $5 billion as a penalty for the company's privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, The Guardian reported.

According to the Washington Post, an anonymous source familiar with the issue said Friday that the settlement was approved 3-2, and that the Justice Department is expected to approve the move.

In addition to the fine, which would be the highest ever levied by the FTC against a technology company and the highest ever levied for a privacy violation, Facebook will reexamine how it handles user data.

The Washington Post noted that Facebook "may have to document every decision it makes about data before offering new products, keep closer watch over third-party apps that tap users’ information, and require its top executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to attest that the company adequately has protected privacy."

However, the reports noted that the fine will not affect Facebook's ability to share data with third parties.

During the first quarter of 2019, Facebook's revenue totaled more than $15 billion. And TechSpot noted that following the reports of the FTC's decision, Facebook's market valuation rose by $10.4 billion.

The Guardian quoted Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute who who specializes in monopoly power: "This isn’t a fine, it’s a favor to Facebook, a parking ticket which will clear them to conduct more illegal and invasive surveillance. Congress should start defunding the FTC and move the money to state enforcers like Karl Racine who believe in enforcing the law."

Last year, the British data-mining company used information inappropriately collected from the accounts of over 50 million Facebook users. The data, collected in 2014, was gained by taking advantage of a loophole in the system which permitted a personality quiz application to gain access not only to the data of the 270,000 users who took the quiz, but all of their Facebook friends’ accounts as well.

University of Cambridge academic Aleksandr Kogan, the author of the quiz, sold the data to Cambridge Analytica, which then used the data to engage in “micro-targeting” for clients, mining a wealth of personal information to determine which users are most receptive to particular messages.

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