Facebook’s U.S. Fine May Be Great Investment, EU Economist Warns

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc.’s potential fine of $3 billion to $5 billion from a U.S. privacy probe would be a "a great investment" if it allowed the company to corner a market and reap $50 billion in revenue a year, says the European Union’s chief antitrust economist Tommaso Valletti in a Twitter post.

Valletti was commenting on a New York Times article on Facebook’s regulatory problems. The company took a $3 billion charge this week concerning a Federal Trade Commission investigation over whether the company violated a 2011 privacy settlement with the agency.

Facebook paid out a 110 million-euro ($123 million) fine to EU antitrust regulators for failing to provide accurate information during their review of Facebook’s WhatsApp takeover. Valletti’s earlier tweets have questioned whether that deal should have been approved and criticized the company for "a bunch of lies."

The EU has also been targeted by Germany’s top antitrust official for levying heavy fines on Google without extracting substantial changes to how it behaves. Germany ordered Facebook earlier this year to overhaul how it tracks and collects data on users’ web surfing.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Valletti’s tweet. The company is challenging the German antitrust order and said in February that the authority dismissed its view that the service "competes directly with YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter and others."

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.