FTC focusing on Mark Zuckerberg in Facebook probe: Reports

April 19, 2019 GMT

Mark Zuckerberg risks being held personally accountable by federal regulators scrutinizing Facebook’s mishandling of user data, reports indicated Thursday.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is considering if and how to discipline Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and CEO, amid discussions being held more than a year since the government agency initiated an investigating into his company’s privacy practices, The Washington Post first reported.

Citing unnamed sources, The Post and NBC News both reported that federal regulators are weighing unspecified measures to punish Mr. Zuckerberg, 34, as the FTC and Facebook discuss a potential resolution to the probe.


“We hope to reach an appropriate and fair resolution,” Facebook said in a statement.

The FTC declined to comment, both outlets reported.

Facebook and the FTC previously brokered a deal in 2011 that resulted in the company agreeing to make improvements to its privacy practices, but a series of subsequent missteps raised concerns that came to a head when revelations emerged in March 2018 involving Cambridge Analytica, a British firm that had gained access to the data of roughly 87 million social networking users without their permission.

The FTC began investigating Facebook’s privacy practices in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and The Post reported last summer about similar probes being pursued by both the FBI and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

More recently, Facebook this week faced scrutiny after acknowledging separate incidents involving both its flagship social networking service and its photo-sharing app, Instagram: on Wednesday the company said it had “unintentionally” harvested data from the email accounts of up to 1.5 million of its users, and on Thursday it acknowledged that the number of Instagram affected by a previously disclosed security lapse was in the “millions,” not “tens of thousands”

The FTC is specifically reviewing past comments Mr. Zuckerberg made about privacy, The Post reported. He testified on Capitol Hill last year that Facebook was in compliance with the 2011 agreement.