The Federal Trade Commission started investigating Facebook in March 2018 as the Cambridge Analytica scandal unfolded. The investigation centers on whether or not Facebook broke an agreement with the FTC, made in 2011, that required the social network improve its privacy practices. Now, a report suggests that the FTC is specifically putting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg under scrutiny as part of this investigation.
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According to a report from The Washington Post, federal regulators are investigating Zuckerberg’s past statements on privacy and considering holding him responsible for Facebook’s numerous privacy lapses. According to the report, FTC veterans have encouraged investigators to “take direct aim at Zuckerberg” and put him under additional federal oversight.
The FTC has also considered requiring Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives “to certify the company’s privacy practices periodically to the board of directors.”
In past federal investigations, Zuckerberg has been spared, with documents seen by The Washington Post suggesting the FTC had considered, then backed down from specifically targeting Zuckerberg in the 2011 settlement:
More than eight years ago, when the FTC cobbled together its initial settlement with Facebook, agency staff weighed whether to target Zuckerberg personally. An unreleased and undated early draft of the FTC’s consent order against Facebook, obtained by The Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, explicitly named Zuckerberg as a respondent — meaning he would have faced heightened federal oversight and the risk of fines and other penalties in the event of future privacy missteps.
In the end, however, the FTC dropped mention of him from a version of the order shared around April 2011
It’s still unclear when a settlement between the FTC and Facebook might come. The Post’s report suggests that talks between the two “have intensified in recent weeks,” with Facebook officials meeting with regulators last month. In addition to the punishments for Zuckerberg, Facebook could be hit with a fine into the billions of dollars.
Earlier this week, Facebook revealed its latest privacy lapse. It revealed in a silent update to a months-old blog post that it had stored millions of Instagram passwords in plaintext. Facebook said it would notify affected users, but here’s how to change your Instagram and Facebook credentials anyway.