The US government has hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine for years of data privacy violations that have “deceived” and “undermined” user choices, the Washington Post reports.

The famous social network will also have to allow federal eyes on its future business dealings.

The ruling follows a 16-month investigation conducted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which accused Facebook of consistently misleading its 2.2 billion account holders. They alleged that Mark Zuckerberg’s company was duplicitous the ways it allowed app developers and advertisers access to account holders’ private data.

The resultant fine is the largest in US history for infringements of data privacy, and will now open the social media giant’s decision-making to intense scrutiny on the part of federal agencies for the next 20 years.

As reported by the Washington Post, FTC chair Joe Simons, stated:

“Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they could control how their personal information is shared, Facebook undermined consumers’ choices.”

Democrats Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter have insisted the financial penalty should have been far harsher, fearing that the punishment will not change the way Facebook monetises user data.

“The Commission would better serve the public interest and be more likely to effectively change Facebook by fighting for the right outcome in a public court of law,” Slaughter wrote.

Facebook lawyer, general counsel Colin Stretch said the settlement marks “a sharper turn toward privacy on a different scale than anything we’ve ever done in the past,” before revealing that the social network has settled a further probe conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which will see the firm pay $100 million for failing to tell investors about its infamous data privacy violations.

Stretch said:

“We have heard that words and apologies are not enough and that we need to show action. By resolving both the SEC and the FTC investigations, we hope to close this chapter and turn our focus and resources toward the future.”

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