Yeah, that’s “trillions” with a “T.” Former Federal Trade Commission officials said if Facebook is found to have violated the FTC consent decree, the company could be fined $40,000 per violation, reports the Washington Post. In this case, each 1 of the 50 million users whose data was shared with Cambridge Analytica could be considered one violation, meaning Facebook could–theoretically–be hit with a $2 trillion fine. The FTC officials who spoke with the Post said a trillion-dollar fine is unlikely, but Facebook could still see a fine running into the millions.
The FTC consent decree is a requirement that states users explicitly give their consent before data beyond the privacy settings they have set are shared about them. Cambridge Analytica received data about not just Facebook users who specifically opted in to share their information with the research app, which is used to harvest user details, but also data from friends of those users who did not opt in to sharing their data–the former FTC officials believe this could be considered a violation of the consent decree.