Shares finished at $204.87, up nearly 2% on the day, and have reached their highest level in nearly a year. Investors increasingly see the company’s results more than compensating for any concerns about the potential harm of regulation.
If it is approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, the $5 billion fine would be the stiffest penalty ever assessed against a technology company.
When contacted by Deadline, Facebook and the FTC both declined to comment on the settlement. The 3-2 vote followed party lines at the Republican-controlled agency, according to numerous published reports.
In addition to the money involved (certainly not a fortune by the company’s ultra-rich standards), the decision is expected to usher in a new era of restrictions on how Facebook handles users’ personal information. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has frequently emphasized in his recent remarks, including before Congress, that he is open to regulation.
In March 2018, after a string of revelations about the rogue data firm Cambridge Analytica soon metastasized into larger trust issues for Facebook, the FTC opened an investigation into the company. It wanted to assess how the company is treating the personal data of its billions of users (one of many issues that has led to increasing calls for Facebook to be broken up).
Analyst John Blackledge of Cowen issued a note to clients late Friday mirroring the market’s reaction and noting other regulatory probes of Google parent Alphabet as well as Amazon. “We believe it’s premature to assume any significant near-term downside on tech-related antitrust concerns” at the tech giants, he wrote.
On Thursday, a “social-media summit” was held at the White House, but Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were not invited. Trump has criticized Silicon Valley companies for allegedly maintaining a bias against conservative views and even “trying to rig the election” in 2020.