Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

Federal investigation of Facebook may hold Zuckerberg accountable on privacy

US regulators reported to be exploring founder's past statements on privacy and considering greater oversight of his leadership

Facebook is hit by a number of privacy-related issues recently. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Facebook is hit by a number of privacy-related issues recently. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

US regulators investigating Facebook for mishandling users' personal information are looking at founder Mark Zuckerberg's past statements on privacy and considering whether to seek new heightened oversight of his leadership, the Washington Post reported.

The talks on how to hold Mr Zuckerberg accountable for Facebook's data lapses come amid wide-ranging discussions between the Federal Trade Commission and the social media company that could settle the government's more than year-old probe, the newspaper reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the discussions.

When asked about the negotiations, Facebook said in a statement it hopes to "reach an appropriate and fair resolution." The FTC declined to comment.

This move by US regulators creates new legal, political and public-relations headaches for the Silicon Valley's famous and image-conscious top executive. A sanction from the federal government would signal a rare rebuke to Mr Zuckerberg and the tech giant company.

Facebook has been hit by a number of privacy-related issues recently, including a glitch that exposed passwords of millions of users stored in readable format within its internal systems to its employees.

Last year, the company came under fire following revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, obtained personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent.

The company has also been facing criticism from lawmakers across the world for what has been seen by some as tricking people into giving personal data to Facebook and for the presence of hate speech and data portability on the platform.

Separately, Facebook was asked to ensure its social media platform is not abused for political purposes or to spread misinformation during elections.

Updated: April 19, 2019 11:16 AM

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