FTC criticizes Facebook for misleading claims about Facebook withdrawal

FTC criticizes Facebook for misleading claims about Facebook withdrawal

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Federal Trade Commission criticized Facebook Inc on Thursday for making misleading claims to explain why it had disabled the accounts of research students studying political ads on social media platform

On Tuesday, Facebook said it cut off personal accounts and access of New York University researchers because of concerns about privacy concerns by other users.

Facebook had initially said that the decision was made out of a need for the social media giant to live up to a consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission.

But Wired spokesman Joe Osborne later informed Wired that the consent decree was not a reason to disable the researchers' accounts. Instead the decree required the creation of rules for a privacy program, which was what he said the researchers had violated.

A researcher denied any wrongdoing, Wired reported.

The FTC posted a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying that it was inaccurate that the company's actions were required under the 2019 consent decree.

While I appreciate that Facebook has corrected the record, I am disappointed by how your company has done itself in this matter, wrote Sam Levine, the FTC's acting director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The FTC received no notice that Facebook would be publicly blocking invoking our consent decree to justify discontinuing academic research earlier this week.

Facebook paid a record-setting $5 billion fine to settle the FTC probe into its privacy practices and boosted safeguards on user data.

While it is not our role to resolve individual disputes between Facebook and third parties, we hope that the company is not invoking privacy much less the FTC consent order as a pretext for advance other aims, he wrote.

Separately, the FTC sued Facebook for allegedly violating antitrust law in December. That complaint was refiled and the agency has an Aug. 19 deadline to refile it