Over the past several years, Facebook has dealt with increasingly strong privacy regulations around the world. Another example of that occurred this week when the Ireland Data Protection Commission (DPC) handed the company a $403 million fine for failing to protect young users on Instagram.
Because Facebook’s European headquarters are located in Ireland, the Irish data watchdog organization is responsible for enforcing many privacy rules around Europe. According to the DPC, it levied these fines against the social media giant because it allowed children to operate business accounts on Instagram, which left their phone numbers and email addresses exposed. The organization also said that the accounts of young users were set to “public” as a default setting. However, Facebook’s parent company Meta pushed back strongly against the allegations, claiming that it has already addressed these issues.
“This inquiry focused on old settings that we updated over a year ago, and we’ve since released many new features to help keep teens safe and their information private,” a Meta spokesperson told Business Insider. “While we’ve engaged fully with the DPC throughout their inquiry, we disagree with how this fine was calculated and intend to appeal it. We’re continuing to carefully review the rest of the decision.”
While $400 million may not be much to a company like Meta, this decision also represents a brutal PR hit for a company already losing many teen users. The appeals process has yet to play out, but for now, the company may have to reassess how it handles user privacy in Europe.
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