FTC probing Facebook for use of personal data: report

FTC probing Facebook for use of personal data: report

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly launching an investigation into Facebook over whether it violated terms of a 2011 consent decree in the wake of reports a data firm harvested information from millions of profiles. 

Bloomberg News reported Tuesday that the investigation relates to whether Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica, the data firm used by the Trump campaign, to obtain some Facebook users’ personal data in violation of its policies. 

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“We are aware of the issues that have been raised but cannot comment on whether we are investigating," an FTC spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "We take any allegations of violations of our consent decrees very seriously as we did in 2012 in a privacy case involving Google.”
 
The FTC fined Google $22.5 million in that case for collecting data on users of Apple's Safari browser without their knowledge. Google at the time had been under a consent decree with the FTC for an earlier privacy violation, and the FTC said that the Safari incident violated that agreement.
 
Facebook reached a similar consent decree with the FTC in 2011 over charges that it deceived users into thinking their information was private even though it was being shared publicly. That agreement prohibits Facebook from making "misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers' personal information."

Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica from the platform on Friday after reports it had not fully deleted data it obtained from Cambridge University professor Aleksandr Kogan.

The professor reportedly harvested more than 50 million Facebook profiles from his app, which required a Facebook login, despite only 270,000 having given permission for their data to be harvested.

Updated at 10:05 a.m.