The US Federal Trade Commission has confirmed an inquiry into possible “unfair acts that cause substantial injury to consumers” by Facebook, following the scandal triggered by the reveal of Cambridge Analytica’s harvesting of data from 50 million users of the social network, according to the Guardian.
As a result of the controversy, the value of Facebook shares fell by more than 5 percent yesterday.
Facebook responded by saying they remain “strongly committed to protecting people’s information”, and that they “appreciate the opportunity to answer questions the FTC may have.”
If Facebook were found in violation of the consent decree for all 50 million users whose data was obtained by Cambridge Analytica, the penalty could be in the trillions of dollars.
Chris Hoofnagle, faculty director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, said that the language in the decree would make it difficult for the FTC to show that Facebook had violated the terms, but that the investigation might reveal many other issues, which is what happened in a 2011 investigation: “The FTC went in investigating A, then discovered B, C, D, E, F and G. The same thing is going to happen here. They’re going to go in under the consent decree logic, and then they’re going to find other wrongdoing.”
Facebook is also facing backlash for having collected years’ worth of data about users’ phone contacts, text messages and phone calls if they had the apps installed on Android devices.