Facebook has been whacked with a €10m (£8.9m) fine by Italian authorities over the misuse of data – only the second fine issued to the social media giant following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In October, the UK Information Commissioner fined the firm just £500,000 – the maximum allowed under the data protection laws at the time – although the company has since launched an appeal.
However, Italy’s competition watchdog investigated Facebook under the country’s consumer protection laws which carry much heftier penalties.
Its seven-month probe found that the social media company “misleadingly” encouraged people to sign up “without informing them in an immediate and adequate way” of how their data would be sold to third parties.
It also ruled that the business “aggressively” discouraged users from trying to limit how the company shared their personal information, by telling them that doing so risked them experiencing “significant limitations”.
The data at the centre of the ruling was harvested from the personality quiz app which gathered details about users’ Facebook friends without their knowledge. This data was then used by British firm Cambridge Analytica.
In a statement, the watchdog also said that Facebook does not make clear to users that the social network makes money from data, “simply stressing the fact that it’s free”. It has ordered Facebook to publish a corrective statement to all users on the desktop site and mobile apps.
Facebook insists that it has since changed its policies. It said: “We are reviewing the authority’s decision and hope to work with them to resolve their concerns.
“This year we made our terms and policies clearer to help people understand how we use data and how our business works. We also made our privacy settings easier to find and use, and we’re continuing to improve them. You own and control your personal information on Facebook.”
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