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Facebook Gets Off Easy in FTC Settlement

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved a roughly $5 billion settlement with Facebook following the company’s rampant user privacy violations.

It’s a bad sign that markets are reacting to Facebook’s settlement with the FTC by jumping the value of the company’s stock. It appears that Facebook got off easy yet again.

An effective settlement would have imposed not just a huge fine, but real restraints on the company going forward, structural reforms and substantive terms to protect user privacy. The FTC should have forced Facebook to abandon plans to integrate Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp; and it should have, at minimum, imposed severe privacy-protecting conditions on Facebook’s plans to launch a new global, privatized currency.

The odds are unlikely that such measures were included in the settlement, which means Facebook may have been rewarded yet again for its reckless approach to consumers.