As the Facebook- Cambridge Analytica scandal rages on, there’s not much that decision makers can do for their companies except watch how the case pans out. However, while they wait, The Washington Post gives some insight into how much Facebook’s privacy mishaps are going to cost the company, and Mark Zuckerberg.
According to The Washington Post, Facebook should expect “a bracing bit of math” as its penalties are considered. After taking into account the amount of American Facebook users who claimed their data was collected by Cambridge Analytica, the amount of American users who said they were affected by the “scraping” issue the company recently acknowledged, and more, The Washington Post says that the social media giant could owe over $7.5 trillion.
But, the cost could go up, The Washington Post says: “These forms of data collection happened on Facebook over the course of several years, the company has acknowledged. So as a very rough calculation, maybe multiply $7.5 trillion by five years by 365 days. That’s not counting extra days for leap years.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will be the ultimate decision maker in how much the company needs to pay. Aside from monetary penalties, The Washington Post also says that should the FTC decide to bring the hammer down hard on Facebook, and “the company could be forced into major concessions that could affect how it collects and handles data — two issues at the core of how the business makes money.” Last year, Facebook’s profits were $15.9 billion.
While the FTC now has more power to change how Facebook handles its user privacy, and could hit the company with astronomical fines, it won’t put the social media giant out of business, according to the Washington Post. However, the cost of upcoming reforms (“in terms of new staff to guard against intrusions or revenue foregone in the name of protecting users”) “could easily cost the company more than any fine.”