According to the Wall Street Journal, FTC commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of the settlement, with the republican majority pushing the agreement through.
The FTC’s settlement with Facebook follows a long probe of the social media network over privacy concerns. Facebook had said as early as April that the company expected to pay up to $5 billion in a settlement. The case will now move onto the Justice Department’s civil division, which is expected to reach a settlement to tighten government regulations on Facebook and its approach to user privacy. It’s not yet clear how long it will take before the case is finalized by the Justice Department. The FTC includes a review by the Justice Department as a part of its procedure, but reviews from the Justice Department rarely change the outcome of an FTC decision.
This FTC investigation began over a year ago over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw the personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users wrongfully ending up with the data firm. The focal point of the investigation was whether or not the scandal constituted a breach of a 2012 consent decree, under which Facebook promised to protect users’ personal data. The scandal led to Cambridge Analytica being shut down in 2018 over the firm’s relationship with Facebook, as well as broader concerns about the firm’s political tactics. The firm landed political consulting work by using data, much of which would be collected from Facebook, to profile voters and attempt to reach out to them through political content.