Facebook cannot deny the fact that 2018 has been a tumultuous year, especially since the eruption of the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal. With a brand new year looming in, it is interesting to see just how much significance the social media giant could bring to the world. With that in mind, experts took a glimpse at what the year holds for the tech firm, as reported by NewStatesman.
For starters, Facebook might just get a massive fine. It is worth noting that the Irish Data Protection Commission announced in December that, thanks to “a number of breach notifications from Facebook”, it had launched an inquiry.
Unfortunately for the social media giant, the implications of this are quite enormous, and regulators are treading on new ground, backed by fierce regulation designed to come down hard on firms deemed not to have kept personal data secure.
“The focus is going to be on what security measures they had in place, what procedures they had in place,” explained Kate Colleary, head of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.
Colleary further adds: “And if they’re deficient, well then it’s likely I would suggest that there’ll be an administrative finding.”
That administrative finding, which is basically the Data Protection Commission’s ruling on whether the tech giant was in the wrong, could be massively costly to the company. As far as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is concerned, it is possible for a firm to be fined up to 4% of its global revenue. Going back to Facebook, this fine could very well reach $1.5 billion or so.
Apparently, the fines do no stop there. It holds true that inquiries are under way in Ireland, but the US Federal Trade Commission is also investigating Facebook’s conduct in regards to an agreement it signed in 2011. To put it simply, the document made the social media giant promise to obtain clear and proper consent if it intended to gather, collect and/or share user data.
The firm has insisted, multiple times, that it has not gone against that agreement, known as a “consent decree”. Even so, the FTC is taking a closer look.
If Facebook is found to be in violation the punishment could in theory be astronomical, which is the consent decree that demands $40,000, per day, per violation. A violation, in this case, could mean “user.” And it should be noted that there are around 80 million Facebook users in the U.S., which would mean around $3 trillion.
But that is unlikely to happen. The goal of the FTC is not to put American companies out of business, but to discourage bad behaviour. According to Professor David Vladeck, a former head of consumer protection at the FTC, he expects to see a fine worth of $1 billion
“The agency will want to send a signal… that the agency takes its consent decrees seriously,” he said.
There is one view that seems to have bipartisan support in different countries across the globe. It is basically the narrative that Facebook is now too big and too powerful.
“We have a lot of competitors,” said Mark Zuckerberg during his appearance in front of the Senate in April. The only catch here, though, is that the CEO he failed to actually name any. With WhatsApp and Instagram also on its books, there is no real alternative to the social media network. And if there is, it is expected from the tech giant to just buy it. The company is without a doubt preparing for firm calls that its business gets split into smaller pieces by hiring in expertise on competition matters.