Facebook has confirmed that it is currently talking with the Federal Trade Commission, but won’t say what for.
The Washington Post reports that the FTC may have been planning to lay massive penalties — the cash sum alone would amount to billions of dollars — over what it has appraised to be a failure to maintain good privacy practices for Facebook’s networks’ users during the 2016 election campaign.
The main subject of the investigation was Cambridge Analytica, a media consulting firm that was able to access 87 million Facebook users’ private data and target ads that promoted the candidacy of Donald Trump or otherwise generated politically-charged groups and pages to gin up discord and conflict.
Facebook had agreed with the FTC in 2011 to disclose what the company was doing with users’ data before sending it to outside groups. The fines it would face for violating the agreement depended on factors such as how many accounts were affected in its negligence.
The company is currently fighting back smaller fines from the United Kingdom and a lawsuit from the attorney general for the District of Columbia. However, with this investigation taking up a high profile, some market analysts believe that a settlement might do less damage to Facebook’s reputation than a drawn out court battle.