Rights & Money

Facebook Fined $9 Million

The social media giant misled Canadians about their privacy


By Erika Morris


Canada’s independent Competition Bureau is imposing a fine of $9 million on Facebook, saying the social media platform made misleading claims about the privacy of users’ personal information.

This comes after the bureau’s investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices from 2012 to 2018 which concluded that the tech giant misrepresented how they limit the sharing of user information with third-party developers, giving people a false idea of how much of their information they control. Though Facebook gave the impression that users’ data and that of their friends would not be shared with the developers of third-party apps, these developers had access to that data. The competition watchdog’s commissioner says Facebook made privacy representations to the public to promote its own interests. About 24 million Canadians use Facebook every month.

Facebook will have to dish out an additional $500,000 to cover the cost of the investigation and, while the company says it disagrees with the findings, it says it will pay the fines. The settlement also includes an agreement to not make any false or misleading representations about the disclosure of users’ personal information.

“Canadians expect and deserve truth from businesses in the digital economy, and claims about privacy are no exception,” the Competition Bureau said in a news release. “The Competition Bureau will not hesitate to crack down on any business that makes false or misleading claims to Canadians about how they use personal data, whether they are multinational corporations like Facebook or smaller companies.”

Facebook is no stranger to consumer privacy concerns and controversy. Last year, the United States’ Federal Trade Commission slapped the social media giant with a $5 billion fine over privacy concerns.

Facebook had been found to have given a British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, access to about 87 million users’ data by means of a personality quiz. The quiz allowed the firm to gather data on both the user playing the game and their friends. About 620,000 of the users were Canadian.

Photo: iStock/NiroDesign.