Social media companies are going to have to come up with a solution for privacy scandals. Otherwise, the government will do it for them and their bosses won’t like it.
On Thursday, two sources told NBC News that regulators are debating if and how they will hold Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responsible for Facebook’s private information leaks.
Facebook’s latest privacy scandal was that it "unintentionally uploaded" the email contact lists of approximately 1.5 million users. 540 million users’ data was found uploaded to Amazon Cloud for the public to see, millions of passwords were exposed.
Facebook has a long history of being criticized for its handling of privacy issues, but Democratic members of the Federal Trade Commission are saying that individual executives can be held accountable. While the FTC typically only uses that level of threat in cases of fraud, it has been investigating Facebook’s data-handling processes for more than a year.
NewsBusters covered the scandal where The New York Times reported how Facebook allowed “Spotify, Netflix and the Royal Bank of Canada to read, write and delete users’ private messages.”
Marc Rotenberg, the head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, lamented how Facebook has mismanaged users’ private information. “There has been an endless barrage of how Facebook has ignored users’ privacy settings, and we truly believed that in 2011 we had solved this problem,” he said. “We brought Facebook under the regulatory authority of the F.T.C. after a tremendous amount of work. The F.T.C. has failed to act.”
A Facebook spokesperson remained tight-lipped about the issues being discussed, merely commenting, "We hope to reach an appropriate and fair resolution."
Facebook and Big Tech in general have received bipartisan calls to be broken up even in this politically polarized time. In his appearance on the Varney & Co show on Fox Business, Prof. Scott Galloway, of the NYU Stern School of Business, said he believes “DOJ or FTC action perhaps supported by attorney generals [sic] in states, maybe even red states, that file antitrust action” will happen.