Mark Zuckerberg has spent the past couple weeks apologizing to one forum or another in one interview or appearance or another, and by now he will have apologized before Congress; and if you partake of the Harvard University dropout’s invention, which is called Facebook, then perhaps you care. Actually, we all ought to care, regardless of whether we have a Facebook account, and no matter if we were among the 90 million Americans whose information was mined by a research company for data involving our political beliefs.


Cambridge Analytica paid Facebook for access to some of its users, though not for as much access as it evidently obtained, and in violation of the terms of sale. Cambridge helps advertising agencies target their messages to supporters, or potential supporters, of candidates. The best known beneficiary was, as you’ve read, one Donald Trump. But the firm had other clients, among them the campaign of Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. (There is no evidence to date that any of the candidates were aware that Cambridge was employing data it had not lawfully acquired.) Thus, obviously, any number of unknowing Arkansas Facebookers had their pages pored over, processed, categorized as to ideology or Red-Blue inclination — and then became the recipients of advertising or other messages styled to tell them what they wanted to hear. Or, read.


Facebook has “suspended” Cambridge Analytica but too late, just as it was somewhat tardy, to put it mildly, in acknowledging both the security breach itself and its extent. Zuckerberg insists new safeguards for Facebook users are now in place and will only be made stronger. But the company is looking at some serious financial penalties, administrative fines that could easily enter the millions of dollars. Based on the potential levy per violation, one estimate put the company’s potential liability in the trillions.


Don’t hold your breath. Too many investors, individual and institutional, have a stake in the company. It would seem that, with a market value of $462 billion (hours before Zuckerberg appeared before Congress, that is), Facebook is too big to fail. Rather in the fashion of the big banks and other financial actors that were shooting craps with depositors’ money in the sub-prime mortgage racket and had to be bailed out with taxpayer dollars lest the Great Recession become the Second Great Depression. In fact, Facebook is worth more than J.P. Morgan Chase, bigger than Bank of America, bigger than Wells Fargo, bigger than Citibank. It is more than 20 times bigger than Arvest, the Arkansas-based bank holding company controlled by Sam Walton’s heirs. It is 77 times bigger than Arkansas’s general revenue budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. And it is 27 times larger than the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System — which is about to be a wee bit bigger than its current $17 billion in assets.


As it happens, and speaking of Arkansas and Facebook, the latter apologized to the former only a day before Zuckerberg delivered his mea culpa on Capitol Hill. You see, Arkansas’s Teacher Retirement System, among other public pension funds, bought some Facebook stock when the company went public in 2012, only to see the stock go south. Not horribly so, but enough to rile the fund managers. They suspected, and later alleged in a class action lawsuit, that Facebook’s sales team had overcooked their presentation, neglecting to mention some developments that could materially affect the value of the stock. So, subject to final court approval, Facebook is offering the Arkansas fund $35 million, to be shared with its companion plaintiffs. Go-away money, a pittance against its market capitalization.


It’s difficult to feel sorry for a guy who became a multi-, multi-millionaire in his 20s and who now, at 33, is said to have a net worth of about $62 billion. Zuckerberg made it the old fashioned way, coming up with an idea and nurturing it into an unprecedented social and commercial force. (More go-away money: some of his college roomies insisted they were due more than a little credit, so Zuckerberg settled for $300 million. And never mind that he’s frequently been portrayed as a horse’s posterior, his philanthropy notwithstanding.)


The issue isn’t supposed to be about money, but privacy. But that’s a hoot. In this age, what is privacy? Log on, not only on Facebook, but any site. You’ll see soon enough that Internet privacy is a myth. And that it’s about money.