This might be a 'be careful what you wish for' moment for Mark Zuckberg, the wonderkid who built the most popular social network on the planet. Weeks removed in calling for "a more active role for governments and regulators" as it pertains to the internet, Facebook may find itself dealing with two decades of oversight by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Facebook and the US government are currently hammering out a consent agreement that would put to rest a probe into whether the company ran afoul of a separate but similar agreement it reached in 2011. The 20 years of oversight that is being considered for the new pact would be in addition to a penalty in the range of $3 billion to $5 billion.
An unnamed source told Reuters that a settlement could come within a month, though as of right now, nothing has been announced.
The financial penalty, while massive in its own right, is a drop in the bucket for Facebook. To put that figure into context, Facebook raked in nearly $15 billion in advertising revenue in just the first quarter of this year alone, and topped that mark in overall revenue. Facebook's net income (profit) for the quarter was $2.4 billion, a figure that factors in $3 billion it set aside to pay whatever the penalty ends up being.
It's the agreement to two decades of oversight that is a bigger deal, particularly after repeated privacy screw ups over the years, none bigger than the Cambridge Analytica scandal—Facebook is alleged to have shared information about 87 million of its users with what had been a political consulting agency.
Not everyone is in favor of the potential agreement. Two US Senators, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, stated in a letter to the FTC that the financial penalty is not enough. They also wrote that Zuckerberg should share some culpability in the matter.
One thing working in Zuckerberg's favor is his willingness to engage the US government. In an op-ed piece published in The Washington Post several weeks ago, Zuckerberg called for more government regulations.
"From what I’ve learned, I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability," Zuckerberg wrote.
He also said he agrees with the notion that companies like Facebook have "too much power over speech," and that "internet companies should be held accountable for enforcing standards on harmful content." He may soon get his wish.