The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed changes to its 2020 privacy order with Facebook after the company allegedly failed to comply with it. The FTC stated this is the third instance it has taken action against the company for failing to fully protect users’ privacy.
“Facebook has repeatedly violated its privacy promises,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection, said in a statement. “The company’s recklessness has put young users at risk, and Facebook needs to answer for its failures.”
The FTC says that Facebook (whose parent company was renamed Meta in 2021) misled parents about their ability to control their children’s communications in the Messenger Kids app — which launched in 2017 — and that in some cases children were able to communicate with contacts not approved by parents through group chats and group video calls.
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The FTC’s proposed changes would prohibit Meta from profiting on data from users under 18, pause the launch of any new products or services until there is confirmation that the company is in full compliance with the order, and require it to disclose and obtain user consent for any use of facial recognition technology.
In response to the FTC order, Meta called the move a “political stunt” in a press release titled “Upholding Our Commitment to Protecting Your Privacy: What the FTC Gets Wrong.”
“It’s a clear attempt to usurp the authority of Congress to set industry-wide standards and instead single out one American company while allowing Chinese companies like TikTok to operate without constraint on American soil,” the company wrote in the post.
The company went on to state that the latest order “ignores” key facts, such as the fact that the coding error that allowed children to communicate with unauthorized contacts was disclosed to the FTC in 2019, and the company has since taken action to enhance safety and prevent such errors.
“Privacy has been and remains our priority,” Meta added in the release. “We work with the FTC, not only in the interest of being extremely transparent with them but also to ensure that we’re engaging with them regularly as we work to protect people’s privacy and constantly improve our program.”
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