A U.S. district judge in the District of Columbia signed off on a historic settlement Thursday, putting an end to 8-year-old litigation between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Facebook.
The FTC sued Facebook back in 2012 over eight privacy violations, saying that Facebook made deceptive claims about users’ ability to control their personal data. The FTC alleged that Facebook misled its users into using default settings that weren’t nearly as private as users believed they were. Also in 2012, Facebook was ordered to make remedial changes; then, it allegedly violated that order – which resulted in yet more litigation with the FTC.
To settle the current litigation, Facebook agreed that it would not make misrepresentations about data security and would implement a new privacy program. The settlement also obligates Facebook to pay $5 billion in civil penalties; that penalty is significantly larger than the next-closest penalty the FTC has ever won–which topped out at $22.5 million.