Facebook’s $5 billion fine and privacy settlement doesn’t mean the social network is out of the federal government’s crosshairs.
Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced it would be conducting antitrust investigations of multiple big tech companies, and it seems likely that Facebook will be one of them.
Now Facebook says the Federal Trade Commission — the same agency that just reached the $5 billion settlement with Facebook — has also started an antitrust investigation, and that the company has known about it since June.
That news won’t be a total surprise, since it mostly confirms earlier reports that the FTC would be targeting Facebook as part of an ongoing turf war/division of labor with the DOJ. But it’s still significant enough that Facebook is telling shareholders about it via its quarterly earnings release today.
And it reaffirms the idea that while Facebook has taken great pains to explain that the $5 billion settlement is a Very Big Deal and that Facebook can now look forward, it is still going to be dealing with the federal government for a long time. And that’s not counting actual legislation that could actually affect Facebook, if Congress actually decides it wants to get into the business of regulating Silicon Valley’s largest companies instead of issuing press releases about it (and hoping federal agencies do the work).
The other thing, of course, that Facebook accomplishes by doing this is it prepares investors for the idea that the Feds aren’t done with it. That’s what the company did earlier this summer when it told Wall Street that it would end up getting fined $3 billion to $5 billion for privacy failures. So when news of the $5 billion fine finally showed up, the company’s investors celebrated and pushed the company’s stock up.
Facebook’s earnings call starts at 5 pm ET. We’ll update this post if warranted.
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