The US Federal Trade Commission has confirmed that it is investigating Facebook over its privacy practices, following recent revelations that data firm Cambridge Analytica harvested and exploited tens of millions of users’ data without their permission. Facebook’s stock renewed its downward slide, bringing the company’s total loss of market value to around $90 billion since the scandal broke 10 days ago.
“The FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook. Today, the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices,” said Tom Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement.
The FTC will look into whether Facebook had violated a 2011 consent decree imposed by the regulator, in which the company promised not to share user data without their consent. In 2014, an app developed by a Cambridge University professor accessed the data of up to 50 million people, which he later passed onto Cambridge Analytica, a Trump campaign consultant.
If the FTC finds Facebook at fault, each violation could cost the company $40,000. Facebook faces multiple other probes, hearings, and investigations in several countries.
Here’s the full FTC statement:
“The FTC is firmly and fully committed to using all of its tools to protect the privacy of consumers. Foremost among these tools is enforcement action against companies that fail to honor their privacy promises, including to comply with Privacy Shield, or that engage in unfair acts that cause substantial injury to consumers in violation of the FTC Act. Companies who have settled previous FTC actions must also comply with FTC order provisions imposing privacy and data security requirements. Accordingly, the FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook. Today, the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices.”