There is no shortage of snark around claims – originally published in the Wall Street Journal – that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved a $5bn settlement with Facebook over the social network’s “privacy missteps”. The snark concerns just how much of a punishment a $5bn fine represents for a company that in the first quarter of 2019 alone generated $14.9bn of revenues and a net profit of $2.43bn – and that after setting aside $3bn in connection with the FTC investigation.
There’s already an argument about the rumoured settlement along political lines, with the WSJ reporting that the three Republican FTC commissioners voted for it, and the two Democrats against it, because they wanted the settlement to include “tougher oversight” on Facebook’s business going forward.
“No level of corporate fine can replace the necessity to hold Mark Zuckerberg personally responsible for the flagrant, repeated violations of Americans’ privacy,” said Democrat senator Ron Wyden, according to Ars Technica. “That said, this reported fine is a mosquito bite to a corporation the size of Facebook.”