It would take Facebook just 18 minutes to pay off its £500,000 fine for the Cambridge Analytica scandal

It's no big deal.

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It’s no big deal.
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • Facebook is facing a £500,000 ($663,575) fine from the UK’s data watchdog over the Cambridge Analytical scandal.
  • It’s the first penalty Facebook would pay for mishandling people’s information.
  • But the company makes so much money that it would take just 18 minutes to pay it off.
  • If Facebook had been fined under new European laws, the maximum penalty would have been $1.6 billion.

It would take Facebook just 18 minutes to pay off the £500,000 fine proposed as a punishment by the UK’s data watchdog for the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has suggested fining Facebook the maximum penalty for the way it mishandled user data and failing to safeguard people’s information.

But the company makes so much money per minute from advertising that the penalty is barely a drop on the ocean.

Facebook made $4.8 billion in net profit in the first three months of 2018, according to its own figures.

And, according to Business Insider’s calculations, that means Facebook makes around $37,037 a minute, which means it would take just less than 18 minutes to pay the fine.

Here is the calculation:

Q1 2018 (January, February, and March) had 90 days.

Each day has 1,440 minutes (24 x 60).

Therefore in Q1 2018 there were 1,440 x 90 minutes, which equals 129,600.

$4.8 billion divided by 129,600 equals $37,037.04 profit per minute.

As of this morning, £500,000 is worth $663,575.

$663,575 divided by $37,037.04 per minute equals 17.91 minutes, or 17 minutes, 55 seconds.

Historically, the ICO hasn’t had much power to issue a robust fine to companies which mishandle people’s information. £500,000 figure was the maximum penalty under the UK’s data protection laws.

But now Europe brought in much stricter privacy laws in May, the GDPR. Importantly, these laws give regulators like the ICO much sharper teeth when it comes to issuing fines, with a maximum fine of €20 million or 4% of a company’s global turnover.

Facebook made around $40 billion (£30.1 billion) in revenue in 2017, meaning its maximum fine under the new laws would be $1.6 billion (£1.2 billion).

Facebook still has a chance to respond to the ICO before the watchdog makes its final decision. The company is expected to make its case later this month.