The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has fined Facebook Inc. $100 million for disclosing misleading data to users.
The misleading information released by the Zuckerberg company relates to the Cambridge Analytics case and the transfer of user data belonging to 30 million US users (87 million users worldwide).
Facebook, which did not admit or deny the SEC’s accusations (see press release), accepted the sentence and the payment of the $100 million fine.
The US SEC thus found Facebook’s behaviour to be guilty, because even though they were aware that “a third-party developer had actually misused Facebook user data”, for over two years the company listed on the stock exchange had publicly minimised the incident by informing investors that it was only a hypothetical misuse of user data.
In fact, the late data analyst company Cambridge Analytica paid a university researcher through a subsidiary company to collect and transfer data from Facebook and create personality profiles with that data without the permission of the users themselves.
Not only that, the SEC reconstruction clearly states that the Cambridge Analytica researcher has also transferred very sensitive Facebook user data, such as names, gender, date of birth, likes to pages, places.
This all happened in violation of the same rules of Facebook, which, despite having discovered the fact in 2015, publicly continued to maintain a line of hypothetical abuse: “the data of our users could be accessed, used or disclosed improperly.
A statement that therefore deviated from reality, but that in the end did not withstand the media pressure and in March 2018 Facebook had to admit that the data of its users had been abused by the data analysis company.
This behaviour caused a significant drop in the price of Facebook shares, causing significant damage to investors.
The director of the SEC’s San Francisco regional office, who was responsible for deciding on the case, said:
“We allege that Facebook exacerbated its disclosure failures when it misled reporters who asked the company about its investigation into Cambridge Analytica”.
The $100 million fine is added to the $5 billion fine imposed yesterday by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). According to the FTC, this is the highest fine ever imposed in the history of the agency that protects trade, consumers and their personal data.