The US Federal Trade Commission has approved a roughly $US5 billion ($7.1 billion) settlement with Facebook over its investigation into the social media company’s handling of user data, a source familiar with the situation has told Reuters.
- Penalty criticised as “a Christmas present five months early” for Facebook
- The settlement would be the largest civil penalty ever paid to the agency
- Source tells Reuters a final announcement on the settlement could come as early as next week
The FTC has been investigating allegations Facebook inappropriately shared information belonging to 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
The probe had focused on whether the data sharing violated a 2011 consent agreement between Facebook and the regulator.
Investors cheered news of the deal and pushed Facebook shares up 1.8 per cent, while several powerful Democratic politicians in Washington condemned the proposed penalty as inadequate.
The FTC is expected to include in the settlement other restrictions on how Facebook treats user privacy, according to the Wall Street Journal, which also said that the agency vote was along party lines, with three Republicans voting to approve it and two Democrats opposed.