FTC opens privacy study into major internet platforms


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Monday voted to issue orders to nine major internet platforms requiring information about how they handle data for a new study.

The orders, which do not implicate any legal wrongdoing, were sent to Amazon, ByteDance (the parent company of TikTok), Discord, Facebook, Reddit, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp and YouTube.

The agency is requesting information about how the platforms collect, use, track or estimate personal and demographic information.

The orders also ask about how the companies determine which ads and content to show users, whether they apply algorithms or data analysis to personal info and in what ways their privacy practices affect children and teens.

Commissioners Rohit Chopra (D), Rebecca Kelly Slaughter (D) and Christine Wilson (R) said in a statement Monday that the study “will lift the hood on the social media and video streaming firms to carefully study their engines.”

“As concerns mount regarding the impact of the tech companies on Americans’ privacy and behavior, this study is timely and important,” they said.

The orders were approved 4-1, with Commissioner Noah Phillips (R) dissenting.

The FTC often uses this kind of study to gather data that can then be used for potential enforcement action.

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