FTC Confirms Investigation Of Facebook's Privacy Scandal

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The United States Federal Trade Commission on Monday confirmed it's investigating Facebook's data privacy scandal involving American data research and consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The federal regulator takes recent media reports on the matter "very seriously," according to Tom Pahl, Acting Director of the agency's Bureau of Consumer Protection. The exact scope of the probe hasn't been disclosed, with the official only noting the FTC is willing to use "all of its tools" in order to get to the bottom of the controversy and determine whether Facebook was in violation of the Privacy Shield framework honored by both the U.S. and the European Union. For much the same reasons, regulators on the Old Continent already confirmed they're looking into the matter last week.

The federal agency is also investigating the possibility that Facebook's episode with Cambridge Analytica violates the FTC Act and the company's 2011 settlement with Washington which saw Facebook vow to do a better job at informing its users about how their data is being collected and managed, in addition to ensuring a higher degree of privacy protections meant to be enabled by default. The probe is "non-public" in nature and may also span other aspects of the case, as per Mr. Pahl. The development confirms recent reports on the matter and signals Facebook is only now entering the second phase of the ordeal where it will be subjected to a high degree of public scrutiny, with many industry watchers already speculating the company is set to be hit with heavy regulations in the near future as a direct consequence of the data harvesting it indirectly allowed Cambridge Analytica to conduct in 2014.

The analytics firm repeatedly dismissed whistleblower allegations claiming it used the personal data of users to fight an information war during the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. on behalf of the Trump campaign. The data harvesting activities themselves weren't against Facebook's terms of use in 2014 but were forbidden a year later. The social media giant already apologized for the matter but has seen tens of billions of dollars of its market capitalization erased since the story broke out eight days ago and is still spiraling downward, being over seven points down to $152 as of Monday morning PST.

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