Canada fines Facebook almost $6.5 million over 'false' data privacy claims

Canada's Competition Bureau says Facebook mishandled user info.

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Facebook is coughing up for another fine. This time the social network is handing over CAD$9 million (US$6.5 million / £5.3 million) to Canada as part of a settlement over the way it handled users’ personal information between August 2012 and June 2018. According to Canada’s independent Competition Bureau, Facebook “made false or misleading claims about the privacy of Canadians’ personal information on Facebook and Messenger” and improperly shared data with third-party developers.

According to the Bureau, Facebook gave the impression that users could control who could see and access their personal information on Facebook platform when using privacy features. However, “Facebook did not limit the sharing of users’ personal information with some third-party developers in a way that was consistent with the company’s privacy claims.” Furthermore, Facebook also allowed certain third-party developers to access the personal information of users’ friends after they installed certain third-party applications. Facebook said it had canned this practice in 2015, but the Bureau found evidence that it continued into 2018 with some developers.

In a statement to Reuters, Facebook said it “did not agree” with the finding, but wanted to resolve the matter quickly. “Although we do not agree with the Commissioner's conclusions, we are resolving this matter by entering into a consent agreement and not contesting the conclusions for the purposes of this agreement,” a spokesperson said.

The fine is the latest in a long line of penalties Facebook has been dealt for the way it handles user data. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which involved the data of some 87 million Facebook users worldwide — the company has faced multiple fines, including a record $5 billion from US regulators in January.