by 👩💻 Alice Monroe
Whether or not you use Facebook, it’s been hard to avoid any headlines regarding Mark Zuckerberg’s leading social network this year. The brand has been at the center of media storms regarding user data being shared to third parties, and Mark Zuckerberg’s role as dual chairman and CEO of the company has fallen under intense shareholder and comptroller scrutiny in recent months. Despite the bad press, the network still courts over 2 billion active users each month – that’s an enormous slice of the world’s population. However, they’ve had to make some necessary changes in recent times, particularly with regard to the way that they allow users to take control of their own data and privacy.
GDPR – a data protection requirement levied by the European Union earlier this year – rolled out to impact all businesses who capture and use private data of those who use certain services online. You will likely have seen new cookie pop-ups and may have received a swathe of emails in recent times to remind you of site privacy policies – but it seems that Facebook, in the eyes of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, simply hasn’t done enough to safeguard user data prior to GDPR coming into effect. As a result, the brand has been hit with a fine of £500,000 (approx. $645,000) in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal which broke in early 2018.
▶ Facebook Only Gets Slap on the Wrist for Cambridge Analytica Scandal
Had the issues occurred post-GDPR, Facebook could have faced a maximum fine of €20 million (approx. $23 million), or 4% of their annual global turnover. Based on 2017’s statistics, this means Zuckerberg may have been faced with a bill of up to $1.6 billion. Therefore, the platform seems to have made a lucky escape as far as financial levies are concerned, but they’re not out of the woods in terms of damage done.
Elizabeth Denham, the UK’s information commissioner, was keen to profess that Facebook failed to protect its users throughout what she refers to as ‘unlawful processing’ of data involved. “A company of its size and expertise should have known better and it should have done better,” she stated. “We considered these contraventions to be so serious we imposed the maximum penalty under the previous legislation.”
“Our work is continuing. There are still bigger questions to be asked and broader conversations to be had about how technology and democracy interact and whether the legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks we have in place are adequate to protect the principles on which our society is based.”
As for Zuckerberg and co – it’s likely they’re keen to put 2018 behind them – as a year of public scandal continues to dwindle to a close.