Grappling with Russians having hacked voters data to influence the 2016 US Presidential election, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now to investigate how private data of millions of users from Facebook social network was given and used by Cambridge Analytica.
The data mined by Cambridge Analytica is believed to have been used to help the election campaign of Donald Trump.
The FTC probe will find whether Facebook failed to protect users privacy, and if so, former FTC officials say it could have the social media network paying fines to the tune of trillions of dollars.
David Vladeck, a former director of FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection said to Washington Post that penalty for one violation of a consent decree was $40,000.
“If data of 50 million people were indeed compromised, the social media network’s financial exposure to fines could run into trillions of dollars,” said Vladeck.
FTC’s acting director Tom Pahl said that the Bureau of Consumer Protection took reports about misuse of user data ‘very seriously’.
Under law Facebook has to notify users and get their permission before data is shared outside their privacy settings and what is known as the ‘consent decree’.
Separately, Facebook is also facing a probe by the European Commission and regulators in United Kingdom over mining of private data of users of the social media network.
Facebook has already accepted that it lost control of users private data and apologised by publishing full page advertisements.
“This was a breach of trust, and I am sorry,” Mark Zuckerberg the boss at Facebook said by way of the advertisements. “The company could have done more to stop the data of millions of users going astray.”