Washington Post: How years of privacy controversies finally caught up with Facebook

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“The cost of years of privacy missteps finally caught up with Facebook this week, sending its market value down more than $100 billion Thursday in the largest single-day drop in value in Wall Street history.

Worries about the rising costs of privacy regulations and controversies, along with declining growth in users and revenue played a key role in a major Wall Street sell-off that started Wednesday night after Facebook reported earnings. Facebook’s stock closed down 19 percent Thursday, at its lowest level in nearly three months. The steepness of the decline suggests investors are reevaluating the viability of Facebook’s core business — collecting extensive data on users so that they can better target them with advertising — in a world in which public pressure is mounting for stricter privacy protections.

“This is a privacy wake-up call that the markets are delivering to Mark Zuckerberg,” said Jeffrey Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy advocate…

…The broader political atmospherics surrounding the company also have darkened amid these controversies, with both Republicans and Democrats calling for possible new regulation of the tech industry and social media in particular.

“It takes a while for opinions to begin to settle, and I think the cumulative effect of months on end of scandal has shown that this is not something they are capable of fixing in any meaningful way — on their own,” said Sarah Miller, spokeswoman for Freedom From Facebook, a nonprofit coalition of progressive groups calling for Facebook to be broken up…”

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