Facebook broke the law and won’t accept responsibility

Canada officials say Facebook won't accept responsibility.
Canada officials say Facebook won’t accept responsibility.

Image: zach gibson / Getty Images

Just one day after Facebook revealed it expects to pay up to $5 billion to the FTC for privacy violations, another country has condemned the social network for breaking its privacy laws. 

Facebook broke Canadian privacy laws, according to officials who say the company refuses to take responsibility for its actions. 

“Facebook has spent more than a decade expressing contrition for its actions and avowing its commitment to people’s privacy, but when it comes to taking concrete actions needed to fix transgressions they demonstrate disregard,” Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy said in a statement released by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Like the FTC inquiry, the Canadian investigation stems from Facebook’s handling of Cambridge Analytica, the data firm that improperly accessed millions of Facebook users’ personal data. More than 600,000 Canadians were caught up in the data leak, officials said. 

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but Canadian officials said the company “refuses to implement recommendations to address deficiencies,” and that it plans to take Facebook to court, which could ultimately result in more fines.

But, once again, it appears these actions will amount to little more than a slap on the wrist for Facebook. One official, quoted by the New York Times, said these court-imposed fines tend to be “in the tens of thousands of dollars.”

But even if the fines were exponentially higher, it seems little can affect the company. Facebook’s FTC fine will be the largest ever imposed on a tech company, yet Facebook, which reported the impending fine along with $15 billion in quarterly revenue, still saw its stock soar immediately following the news. Facebook added more than $30 billion to its value overnight. 

There are other ways the FTC could punish the company, such as holding Mark Zuckerberg personally accountable, or imposing new rules that would force the company to change how it runs aspects of its business. 

But until that actually happens, it’s clear that fines alone will do little damage.

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