As privacy concerns loom over the entire world, given that most social media apps are infiltrating into people’s daily lives, the Federal Trade Commission on Monday, ordered Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, TikTok, Reddit, Snap, Discord, and WhatsApp, to provide detailed information on how they collect and use consumers’ personal data to study how their practices affect children and teens, in particular.
The Federal Trade Commission is issuing orders to nine social media and video streaming companies, requiring them to provide data on how they collect, use, and present personal information, their advertising and user engagement practices, and how their practices affect children and teens. According to the guidelines of the FTC, the companies will have 45 days from the date they received the order to respond.
Upon gaining access to the information, the FTC will carry out a comprehensive study on how social media and video streaming services collect, use, track, estimate, or derive personal and demographic information; how they determine which ads and other content are shown to consumers; whether they apply algorithms or data analytics to personal information; how they measure, promote, and research user engagement; and how their practices affect children and teens.
With a 4-1 vote, the commissioners who voted in favor of the move said, “Never before has there been an industry capable of surveilling and monetizing so much of our personal lives. The planned study will lift the hood on social media and video streaming firms to carefully study their engines.”
Amidst increasing demands for a National Privacy Law to keep tabs on the extent to which social media companies tap into personal information, the FTC, last year fined Facebook $5 billion for alleged privacy violations and instituted new oversight and restrictions on its business. The fine was the largest the agency had ever levied on a tech company, although it had no visible impact on Facebook’s business.
In another instance, YouTube was fined $170 million ($136 million by the FTC and $34 million by the New York state) to settle allegations that it collected children’s personal data without their parents’ consent.