FTC Orders Facebook, YouTube to Share Details on How They Collect and Use User Data

How the companies target teens and how they promote and measure engagement will also be examined

Last Updated: December 14, 2020 @ 1:42 PM

The FTC on Monday ordered nine tech and media companies, including Facebook and Google-owned YouTube, to provide information on how they use and collect user data.

The other seven companies ordered to share info are: Amazon, Bytedance (TikTok’s parent company), Discord, Reddit, Snap Inc., Twitter and Facebook-owned WhatsApp. According to a statement from the FTC, the commission is seeking clarity on advertising details, as well as how the companies measure and promote engagement and how their practices impact teens and children.

The FTC made the order under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which the commission said authorizes it “to conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose.” All nine companies have 45 days to respond to the FTC’s request.

It’s been a busy month overall for the FTC; last week, the commission filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook — a move that could potentially lead to the social media giant offloading WhatsApp and/or Instagram.

The FTC claims Facebook not only has a social network monopoly, but that it has maintained that position primarily through its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. (The FTC’s case also has the backing of 48 state attorneys general, underscoring bipartisan support for a breakup.) Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, and two years later, paid $19 billion for WhatsApp. Through those acquisitions, the FTC claims Facebook hampered competitors by preventing them from using its APIs (application programming interfaces), allowing Facebook to build an “unmatched position” in the social media space.

To read more on the case, click here to see what antitrust experts have to say.