WASHINGTON - The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is expected to announce a roughly $5 billion settlement with Facebook Inc as early as this week of its investigation into the social media company’s handling of user data, two sources briefed on the matter said on Monday.
The FTC, Justice Department and Facebook declined to comment. The FTC has been investigating allegations Facebook inappropriately shared information belonging to 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Reuters and other outlets reported July 12 that the FTC had voted to approve the settlement but was awaiting the concurrence of the Justice Department.
Some in Congress have criticized the reported $5 billion penalties, noting Facebook in 2018 had $55.8 billion in revenue and $22.1 billion in net income. Senator Marsha Blackburn said last week the fine should be “$50 billion.”
The Cambridge Analytica missteps, as well as anger over hate speech and misinformation on its platform, have prompted calls from people ranging from presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren to a Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes, for the government to force the social media giant to sell Instagram, which it bought in 2012, and WhatsApp, purchased in 2014.
But the company’s core business has proven resilient, as Facebook blew past earnings estimates in the past two quarters. Facebook is set to report earnings on Wednesday.