Don’t get your hopes up. This isn’t about Facebook’s election meddling and Nazi-style silencing of their political opposition. Instead, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved a roughly $5 billion settlement with the Californian social media giant over privacy issues, which are serious issues and a part of the unethical inner workings of Facebook.
According to The Wall Street Journal:
The Federal Trade Commission voted this week to approve a roughly $5 billion settlement with Facebook Inc. over a long-running probe into the tech giant’s privacy missteps, according to people familiar with the matter.
The 3-2 vote by FTC commissioners broke along party lines, with the Republican majority lining up to support the pact while Democratic commissioners objected, the people said. The matter has been moved to the Justice Department’s civil division and it is unclear how long it will take to finalize, the person said. Justice Department reviews are part of the FTC’s procedure but typically don’t change the outcome of an FTC decision.
A settlement is expected to include other government restrictions on how Facebook treats user privacy. The additional terms of the settlement couldn’t immediately be learned.
This pitiful settlement, which violated millions of users’ privacy is only equivalent to about one month of Facebook revenue.
In other words, it’s hardly a slap on the wrist.
The New York Times reported some details: “Facebook agreed to more comprehensive oversight of how it handles user data, according to the people. But none of the conditions in the settlement will restrict Facebook’s ability to collect and share data with third parties.”
Some have previously pushed for it to hold CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally liable for future privacy infractions.
Since the Cambridge Analytica affair, other privacy missteps have come to light, adding to Facebook’s headaches.
The settlement would easily exceed the previous record penalty for violating an FTC order, a $22.5 million fine against Google Inc. in 2012. The commission has limited powers to impose fines for first-time privacy violations but has broad latitude to sanction repeat offenders.
Facebook shares gained slightly more than 1% on the news, despite the amount being $2 billion more than the company had reserved for the settlement.
The party-line decision could expose Republicans to criticism by Democrats and diminish its impact for the FTC, which has sometimes been criticized for being toothless on privacy in the past. After Facebook set aside billions of dollars to pay the fine, some Democrats criticized the amount as too little.
Meanwhile, they continue to clamp down on outlets whose message they oppose like SonsOfLibertyMedia.com and TheWashingtonStandard.com.
However, the trumpets are being blown after they screamed bloody murder over cryptocurrency being a scam and warning users and stopping ads for it while in the process rolling out a highly invasive and privacy-infringing cryptocurrency of their own they call Libra.
Mac Slavo recently pointed out:
Experts have branded the move a dangerous power grab that marks Facebook’s “most invasive” form of surveillance yet. So far, Facebook has enlisted 28 firms, including Spotify and Uber, who each had to invest a minimum of $1o million to be a founding member of the Libra Association, an independent not-for-profit membership organization.
But this will be a hard sell for a company who is determined to silence voices and sell private data to advertisers for a profit. There is no company that should be trusted less than Facebook, other than perhaps Twitter. The unveiling of the Libra cryptocurrency comes just over a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw the private data of millions of Facebook users manipulated for the purpose of political profiling. Since then, the social network has been plagued by a series of privacy scandals that have continuously called into question the way Facebook handles its users’ data. Facebook’s decision to branch out into this area could potentially open its users up to risks far beyond the privacy scandals of the past.
If you are already concerned about Facebook prying into your life, we suggest avoiding Libra at all costs. “If you’re concerned with Facebook knowing too much or having too much access to your private data, Libra will give Facebook even more direct access to your financial information,” said Phil Chen, a cryptocurrency expert who pioneered HTC’s first blockchain smartphone. “It’s not just access to the information of your transactions, it’s direct access to your wealth and capital. If the top-line question about Facebook and antitrust is about whether to break it up and spin off the likes of WhatsApp and Instagram – well Libra is the most invasive and dangerous form of surveillance they have designed thus far. This will easily become the most dangerous antitrust case in history.”
Although there are few, advocates say Libra will help the 1.7 billion people around the world who don’t have access to basic financial services; aka, the “underbanked.” George McDonaugh, the co-founder of blockchain investment firm KR1, says that the new currency is all about collecting more valuable information from people. “Let’s cut to the chase, Facebook – and Libra’s supporting corporations – are doing this for one reason and that’s data. It will be spun as banking the unbanked, revolutionizing payments and connecting the world, but don’t be fooled. This move into the murky world of cryptocurrency is about tapping new wells of data, the modern day oil,” he said. “No doubt there’ll be plenty of assertions over privacy protection and ‘decentralized’ hand waving, but this is all about Facebook enriching their reservoirs of data, knowing who you are, what you’re buying, who you’re paying and how much you have.”
Additionally, The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the Justice Department is gearing up for an antitrust probe of Alphabet Inc. ’s Google and has authority to look into Apple Inc. while the FTC has taken jurisdiction for possible antitrust probes of Facebook and Amazon.com.
I look forward to the day that Facebook has to actually pay out some real dough over their criminal censorship of voices like Laura Loomer and others.
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