South Korea fines Facebook $369K for slowing user internet connections

Stop Motion by Michele Doying / The Verge

South Korea’s telecom authority is fining Facebook 396 million won (approximately $369,705) for slowing down user internet connections in 2016 and 2017.

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) began investigating Facebook last May and found that the company had illegally limited user access, as reported by ABC News. Local South Korean laws prohibit internet services from rerouting users’ connections to networks in Hong Kong and US instead of local ISPs without notifying those users. In a few cases, such rerouting slowed down users’ connections by as much as 4.5 times. There were 14.5 million Facebook users in South Korea last year and the number is expected to rise to 14.84 million this year, according to Statista.

“Facebook did not actively look into the complaints from local telecoms service providers that users are complaining about slower connections and, as a result, its service quality was not maintained at an appropriate level,” KCC said in a statement, adding that Facebook restored connections last autumn after its rerouting methods became public knowledge in South Korea.

Users would complain to local ISPs about slow connections to Facebook and Instagram several times a day, ABC News noted. For instance, SK Broadband, an ISP that provides home services, received 10 complaints a day, and another ISP, LG UPlus, got 34 complaints a day on average.

“We are disappointed with the KCC’s decision,” Facebook responded in a statement. “We strive to deliver optimal performance for all our users and will continue working with Korean internet service providers toward this goal.” The social media giant argued that its terms of service don’t guarantee that its services won’t be delayed, so it shouldn’t be violating South Korean law. The KCC has not accepted that argument and told Facebook to amend its terms of service.

The case is unrelated to the Cambridge Analytica data mishandling that came to light late last week.


This will bankrupt them! Hopefully they fight this or else they are toast!

In a few cases, such rerouting slowed down users’ connections by as much as 4.5 times.

They’re just trying to westernize South Korea with those United States speeds

In a few cases, such rerouting slowed down users’ connections by as much as 4.5 times.

What do you mean by 4.5 times exactly? Did they slow them 450%? Are you telling me they achieved negative transfer speeds? So I download a file at -450% and it pulls away data even farther?

Dude… it’s not 4.5 times slower than zero. It’s 4.5 times slower than expected speeds. For example, if the expected speed is 45 mbps, then 4.5 times slower means the speed is now 10 mbps.

Or more likely in this scenario, a Facebook page routed through local networks was loaded in 10 seconds, and one rerouted through Hong Kong or the US (as the article states) might take 45 seconds.

Learn basic math?

Sorry, that’s not how math works. 45 Mbps is 4.5x faster than 10 Mbps, but 10 Mbps is NOT 4.5x slower than 45 Mbps. 10 Mbps is ~.78x (78%) slower than 45 Mbps.

Maybe it’s semantics but he is technically correct and you are not.

A lesson in math if you have the patience.

1. That’s not how multiplication and percentages work when talking about increases or decreases. 45/10 = 4.5 → 45mbps is 4.5x faster than 10mbps, and 10mbps is 4.5x slower than 45mbps. Notice how I never mention percentages? That’s because 45mbps is actually 350% faster than 10mbps, not 450% faster. Percentage does not simply equal the multiple x100.

2. Let’s simplify this so it’s easier to understand why: say your speed is 1mbps, how much faster in percentage is 1.2mbps? Is it 120% because 1 × 1.2 = 1.2? No, that seems a little too large doesn’t it? It’s 20% faster. Because you’re looking for the gain, not the multiple.

3. Hence, when talking about multiples, it’s a simply just the multiplication number. But if you’re going to complicate it with percentages, then yes – 10mbps is not 450% slower than 45 mbps. But then again, I never said that – you know… because I know the difference.

4. The Artingeer is wrong, because he’s suggesting that 4.5 slower means that there is a negative transfer – as in the user is losing data to the network, rather than still gaining data, but at a slower rate. Read his line: "So I download a file at -450% and it pulls away data even farther?" → He is conflating 4.5x slower with -4.5x, but slower does not mean negative in this case.


Wow you are one of the most condescending people I’ve ever heard or read. Way to spend 3/4 of your post deriding me for making a simple error because I was writing my response in a hurry and couldn’t edit it.

Artingeer was being flippant and I’m sure he understood that it wasn’t actually negative transfer rates, but the way it was written (as in English, not Math) was incorrect. I still assert that 10 Mbps is .78x slower than 45 Mbps. In other words, 10 Mbps is .22x the speed of 45 Mbps.

I understand (as I’m sure Artingeer did) the thought behind the writing, but in translating English to Math he is still correct, regardless of my stupid mistake in attempting to exemplify why he was correct.

"Artingeer was being flippant" – you have an uncommon sense of humour, or you don’t know what the word flippant means.

He also directly says "-450%" and "negative transfer speeds", so in Math and English, I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant. Otherwise it’d be logically impossible for him to question what 4.5x slower means.

Whether you assert it or not, 10 is not .78x smaller than 45, never mind the fact that it’s speed/slower/faster (that really doesn’t matter in Math or English as long as the units are consistent). 10 is 78% smaller than 45, which translates to 4.5x (times) smaller. That’s Math and English, and the author was absolutely correct in saying the speeds were "4.5 times" slower. Unless you guys are from another dimension, Artingeer was categorically incorrect in literally every word he said.

Saying "that’s not how math works" and proceeding to make such basic errors.
Sit down.
Don’t get in the way of Artingeer maybe being able to learn something.

not showing a serious or respectful attitude.
"a flippant remark"
synonyms: frivolous, facetious, tongue-in-cheek;

So it would seem a perfectly valid use of the word. Also, you’re still wrong but it’s not really worth engaging any more at this point. You are the one being needlessly condescending but this is the internet so what do I expect.

You would think people on a tech oriented blog would pick up obvious sarcasm but here we are!

Except he’s right, it was obviously tongue-in-cheek.

Also, it’s Maths.

Holy crap that is one of the most hilarious elementary school math fail I’ve seen in a long time

If it’s "hilarious", it’s not a fail

You’re right in this regard, I’ll give it to you!

You’re overthinking this 4.5 times more than you should.

They just need to take 4.5 times more math classes.

I wish there was more nuance in what this means.

So is Facebook ultimately being fined by connecting to servers in the US and HK without notification?

This is an interesting glimpse and what I would say could be a negative consequence of Net Neutrality. If I understand this correctly, South Korea expects Facebook to host local servers with guaranteed throughput. IMO that seems like the type of over-regulation that the fear-mongering NN detractors are pushing.

Note, I support the concept of Net Neutrality in general but it’s not unreasonable to think this sort of thing could happen.

Local South Korean laws prohibit internet services from rerouting users’ connections to networks in Hong Kong and US instead of local ISPs without notifying those users

FTA this is what Facebook violates. the fine have nothing to do with net neutrality.

Net neutrality requires data to be treated equally. When all data is being routed to HK or US and everyone is experiencing slower connections thus there’s no discrimination. How did it or could it violates net neutrality?

Because it’s slow for only one service (or group of services). Its not discriminating against a specific person but a specific service and that is what NN is. It doesn’t necessarily violate Net Neutrality specifically in it’s current form but seems like the sort of regulation that could be put in place in the name of net neutrality at some point.

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