In the afternoon of March 21st, Beijing time, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an investigation on Facebook. It was reported that the personal information of tens of millions of users of the company had been leaked and was used by a data analysis agency. P.P. helped in the victory during the presidential election.
According to one source, the FTC investigation was the most serious political and legal crisis suffered since Facebook was founded. This survey may lead to Facebook’s huge fine from the U.S. government.
However, not long ago, a former FTC official stated that Facebook and Cambridge Analytica may violate the agreement. The informants recently stated that Cambridge Analytica collected information about users and friends and that they have retained the data after Facebook told them to delete the data.
About 270,000 users downloaded Cambridge Analytica for use. However, because information of the user's Facebook friends can be obtained, these Facebook users are unaware of the fact that their own information is collected. About 50 million people may have leaked information.
If the FTC finally decides that Facebook violates the agreement, Facebook may face a huge fine, and if it leaks one user’s information, it will be fined 40,000 US dollars. With a base of 50 million users, Facebook may face a huge fine of $2 trillion.
On Tuesday, Rob Sherman, the company’s deputy chief privacy officer, seemed to be aware of the FTC’s intentions. In a statement, he said: "We still attach great importance to protecting user information." We are very willing to respond to the FTC inquiries. Last weekend, the company categorically denied that they had violated the 2011 agreement with the FTC.
A Facebook spokesperson stated in the statement: "We denied any remarks about our breach of the agreement." We respect the privacy agreement with our users. Privacy protection and data protection are the basis for every decision we make. ”
On Tuesday morning, Facebook's share price fell 5.5%, while the company's share price fell to nearly 7% on Monday.
The FTC said on Tuesday that they are aware of the incident, but they are still unable to respond to whether they will investigate the incident.
However, a spokeswoman for the FTC subsequently reiterated the authority of the agency. She said: "For each violation of the regulations, we take it seriously, just like the 2012 Google privacy incident. In 2012, Google was accused of tricking Apple Safari browser users into thinking that their activities on the Internet would not be tracked by Google as long as they did not modify the browser’s privacy settings. In fact, Google uses special code that bypasses Safari's privacy settings to keep track of users' online habits. Google subsequently was fined $22.5 million for this incident.
David Vladeck, FTC's director of consumer protection, said: "The FTC's investigation of Facebook is completely understandable. "He believes that Facebook is likely to violate the agreement signed with the FTC, while Cambridge Analytica violates federal laws." Fradeck also participated in a 2011 investigation into Facebook.
The FTC investigation is only part of the legal crisis facing Facebook. Previously, several Democratic and Republican lawmakers have asked the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to appear in court to testify against the company’s privacy practices and Cambridge Analytica’s time.
At present, courts in the United States have not scheduled a hearing for this time. However, the United States Senate Commerce Committee has invited Facebook representatives to make a brief statement on the incident.
Another lawmaker, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, also called on Congress to pay attention to the Cambridge Analytica institution. He even said on Twitter that the Senate Judiciary Committee should send a subpoena to the agency when needed.
Blumenthal added: “The Congress should pay attention to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to investigate whether the two users have abused their personal data, used dirty methods, and provided services for Russians. ”
In addition, European regulators have indicated that they will launch an investigation into Facebook. British Parliament formally asked Zuckerberg to attend the investigation on Tuesday.
However, Facebook did not say whether Zuckerberg will attend the inquiry of the legal department.