FTC has received 26,000 complaints about Facebook privacy violations since 2012

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received 26,000 complaints about potential Facebook privacy violations over the past eight years, according to records made public by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

The FTC has seen a significant increase in the number of consumer complaints about Facebook since 2012, according to an email the EPIC received through a Freedom of Information Act request. 

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The agency, which oversees data privacy issues, received 8,391 consumer complaints about Facebook last year, a far cry from the 138 it received in 2012. 

It began seeing a significant spike in 2016, the year that Facebook grabbed national attention over criticism that it was allowing disinformation to spread on its platform during a pivotal election year.  

In 2015, the FTC received 1,755 consumer complaints about Facebook; in 2016, it received 4,612, according to the email. 

The 26,000 complaints against Facebook since 2012 are still pending. 

Facebook in 2012 reached a consent decree with the FTC over charges that it had deceived users into thinking that their information was private when it was not. Under that decree, Facebook is barred from “making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers' personal information.” 

The FTC is reportedly considering a multibillion-dollar fine against Facebook for violating that consent decree. 

"In the eight years since the FTC entered the consent order barring Facebook from making any misrepresentation about user privacy, the FTC has not taken a single enforcement action against the company," the EPIC said in a statement

The FTC this week told Congress that it only has 40 full-time employees dedicated to overseeing internet privacy and data security, which Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) in a joint statement said is "shocking" for a country of 320 million people.