By Madison Alworth
Irish regulators have officially launched an investigation into Facebook's latest data breach ー one which could affect 50 million user accounts and is thought to be the single biggest hack of the company's network yet.
The country's Data Protection Commission will now decide whether to fine the social media giant, a penalty that could amount to as much as $1.63 billion.
"We do need the U.S. to be bringing forth these regulations for the digital age, because if we leave it to our international competitors, to jurisdictions outside of the United States, it's likely that they will set rules for Silicon Valley, which is an American industry, in a ways that is actually in their interest," Ghosh said in an interview with Cheddar this week.
Ghosh, currently a Pozen Fellow at Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, recently published a report titled, "Digital Deceit: A Policy Agenda to Fight Disinformation on the Internet", in which he argued that tech companies are not only unequipped to properly regulate their content and users’ data, but they’re largely unwilling to do so.
"I think it's long and gone for the industry to take voluntary measures to move by itself and do something for the little guy, for the individual, for the consumer, for the voter," he said. "We have seen the industry have lots of opportunities to do that in the past, and it simply has not taken the right steps to protect the public interest."
Ghosh noted that big tech has been operating much like the Wild West, but U.S. lawmakers are getting wise, and the race to set regulation is on.
But the data breach is only one problem facing the company. News of the hack came only days after the departure of Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger from Facebook. Their exit signals a larger issue at the social media giant — and the timing is significant.
"For its founders to leave after a few years is incredible news. We imagine Facebook as a fantastic, huge technological force and innovative organization," Ghosh said. "And for these two key individuals to be leaving the company at this stage is pretty incredible. It suggests that they want to strike out new and find new opportunities for innovation."
Facebook has been struggling with one bad headline after another for months ー from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to questionable ad targeting, to misuse of its platform around election. The stock had been able to withstand most of that until this summer. Since its last earnings report in July, shares have lost a full quarter of their value.
For full interview click here.