Federal regulators are reportedly accusing Facebook of misleading consumers about their privacy in its $5 billion settlement, but did not question CEO Mark Zuckerberg as part of the high-profile investigation – a decision that is likely to draw intense criticism.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post published a report with more details of an impending Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settlement, which is the outcome of a lengthy investigation by the US regulatory body. The full settlement has not yet been formally announced or made public, and spokespeople for Facebook and the FTC did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s requests for comment.
According to the report, the settlement will highlight the fact that Facebook used phone numbers that users submitted for security purposes to subsequently let advertisers find and target them with ads, a move that was widely criticised after it was revealed last year.
It will also reportedly “allege that Facebook had provided insufficient information to users – roughly 30 million – about their ability to turn off a tool that would identify and offer tag suggestions for photos.”
Following earlier leaks about the nature of the settlement, the FTC has faced criticism from those who believe it should have pursued tougher sanctions against Facebook for its alleged privacy violations. The Washington Post’s reports has two additional details that may further inflame the FTC’s detractors.
First, Mark Zuckerberg – the CEO and ultimate decision-maker at Facebook, who has absolute control over the company due to its unconventional stock structure – was never deposed for questioning by the FTC.
And secondly, Facebook will not have to admit guilt as part of the settlement – a not uncommon outcome in FTC settlements that may nonetheless add to the perception that Facebook has been able to avoid meaningful punishment for its alleged transgressions.
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