Facebook’s $100m settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month was opposed by the sole Democratic appointee at the regulator when it approved the deal.
SEC records released on Friday showed that Robert Jackson voted against the settlement, which resolved allegations that Facebook had made misleading disclosures about the risks of user data misuse.
The investigation arose from the Cambridge Analytica scandal that also resulted in Facebook agreeing to pay a $5bn fine in a controversial deal with the Federal Trade Commission.
Democratic commissioners at the FTC opposed the settlement that agency struck with the social media group, saying that the fine was insufficient to deter a company of Facebook’s size and arguing for tougher ongoing controls on the business.
The SEC’s vote on its settlement, which was 3-1 in favour, took place before Allison Lee joined as a second Democratic commissioner on July 8, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Facebook neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the SEC case. The settlement included a standard provision ordering the company not to violate the securities laws but did not impose any further sanctions beyond the fine.
A spokeswoman for the SEC and a spokesman for Mr Jackson declined to comment. A Facebook spokesman declined to comment beyond its statement on the SEC settlement last month.
“We share the SEC’s interest in ensuring that we are transparent with our investors about the material risks we face, and we have already updated our disclosures and controls in this area,” Facebook’s general counsel said at the time.
The US securities regulator had alleged Facebook had described the misuse of user data as a hypothetical risk in disclosures to investors and “reinforced this false impression” by telling reporters investigating Cambridge Analytica that it had found no evidence of wrongdoing by the analytics firm.
“In fact, Facebook had already become aware by December 2015 that a researcher had improperly sold information related to tens of millions of Facebook users to data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica,” the SEC alleged.
The order also claimed that staffers at Facebook had concerns about Cambridge Analytica several months earlier.
On Friday, Karl Racine, the attorney-general for the District of Columbia, and Facebook released a document that showed an employee at the company warning in September 2015 that Cambridge Analytica was “sketchy (to say the least)”.
“Facebook employees were raising alarms about political partners and doubts about their compliance with Facebook’s data policies as far back as September 2015,” said a spokesman for the attorney-general, who sued Facebook last year in a case that is still ongoing.
Paul Grewal, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, said in a blog post on Friday that the document, which showed internal conversations at the company, “has the potential to confuse two different events surrounding our knowledge of Cambridge Analytica”.
He said the concerns in September were about scraping public data, not about the sale of user data to Cambridge Analytica.
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