Facebook is expecting to pay as much as $5bn to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it revealed in first quarter financial reports, which otherwise showed continued revenue growth to more than $15bn for the first three months of the year. Facebook recorded a $3bn legal expense “in connection with the inquiry of the FTC into our platform and user data practices”, the company said. The expenses result in a 51% year-over-year decline in net income, to just $2.4bn.
Facebook Inc. suffered its third major outage this year, with users across the world unable to access the social network or its suite of services such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook and Instagram were inaccessible on Sunday morning for several hours with both sites refusing to refresh, while messages were unable to be sent or received in WhatsApp or the Messenger app. The outages add to the woes of Facebook, already embattled by revelations it has failed to safeguard user data or stanch the spread of hate speech, fake news and other forms of disinformation.
Facebook employees had access to hundreds of millions of user passwords over the past few years, the social media giant said on Thursday, a disclosure that will add even more scrutiny on a company that has battled a flood of negative headlines over the past year. The passwords were stored in a readable format on internal systems, Vice President Pedro Canahuati wrote in a blog post, who added that the firm’s login systems are “designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable.”
Facebook “intentionally and knowingly” violated U.K. data privacy and anti-competition laws and urgently needs to be regulated and investigated, a scathing new report by British lawmakers said. The final report issued Monday by the U.K.’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee concluded an 18-month investigation into Facebook and other social media companies for their role in spreading “fake news” and disinformation. “Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like ‘digital gangsters’ in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law,” the report said.
Germany is moving to break up Facebook’s dominant position in gathering data about social media users. The country’s antitrust office ruled Thursday that Facebook is abusing its virtual monopoly in social media by combining data from Instagram, WhatsApp and third party websites. The office said Facebook (FB) used the data to build a unique profile about each user to gain more market power. In future, Facebook will have to seek German users’ explicit consent to collect and combine such data. The Bundeskartellamt ordered Facebook to come up with proposals for how to do this.
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine sued Facebook on Wednesday for the company’s role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook is accused of allowing the collection of personal data of millions of users by a third party. Facebook is also under investigation by the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission.
A collection of internal emails released by the UK parliament revealed that Facebook staff considered selling user data to major advertisers. The documents show that Facebook used data for strategic advantage from 2012 to 2015 to favor partners and punish rivals. CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed using data to ‘increase the value’ of the network.
The president of George Soros’s philanthropy called for oversight of Facebook by U.S. lawmakers after the social media company confirmed it hired a controversial public relations outfit to research the billionaire financier. Facebook’s departing policy and communications chief, Elliot Schrage, this week took responsibility for the hiring of Definers Public Affairs, a consulting firm and opposition-research firm that Facebook tasked with scrutinizing detractors.
Facebook announced that it will discontinue its ‘trending’ section which launched in 2014 amid the controversial issue of ‘fake news.’ Facebook is exploring new ways to help people stay informed while ensuring they see news from ‘trustworthy and quality sources.’ New features which give prominence to local news sources and live coverage are being explored.
Mark Zuckerberg faced difficult questions from EU political leaders in a hearing on Tuesday for Facebook’s recent privacy mishaps. European lawmakers suggested a split from Facebook and complained that Zuckerberg repeated his previous statements, evading specific questions. Zuckerberg began the meeting by apologizing to the European Parliament for Facebook’s role in the spreading of misinformation.