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Facebook Hit With FTC Probe After Personal Data Breach

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will begin to investigate Facebook over the breach of personal data of up to 50 million users by political research company Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytcia has ties to the Trump campaign in the 2016 US election.

The Wall Street Journal reports the FTC will be probing Facebook to see if it violated terms on an earlier consent decree when data of those 50 million users was uploaded to Cambridge Analytica.

The decree states Facebook agreed to get user consent for collecting personal data and sharing it with others. This decree was signed in 2012, the WSJ reports.

Sources say the FTC probe “doesn’t appear to be a formal investigation” and the social media giant will soon receive a letter with a list of questions.

If Facebook has violated its terms, it will face millions of dollars worth of fines not to mention a massive hit to its reputation.

Rob Sherman, deputy chief privacy officer at Facebook’s said in a statement, “We remain strongly committed to protecting people’s information. We appreciate the opportunity to answer questions the FTC may have.”

Facebook has suspended Cambridge Analytica and two associated individuals after receiving reports they violated the company’s third-party developer terms on the collection of user data.

On Saturday, Facebook said one of the individuals, Aleksandr Kogan shared user data from his personality quiz, ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ to Cambridge Analytica. Facebook says this is not an official data breach as he collected the data through legitimate means.

Facebook insists when apps tied to the social media company they “conduct a robust review to identify potential policy violations and to assess whether the app has a legitimate use for the data. We actually reject a significant number of apps through this process. Kogan’s app would not be permitted access to detailed friends’ data today.”

Facebook’s value dropped US$30bn on Monday with its shares dropping to US$170.06 at one point, the lowest they have been in two years.

Cambridge Analytica is suspending its CEO, Alexander Nix and will be launching an investigation to see whether the company has broken any privacy laws.

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