U.S. Federal Trade Commission says Facebook abused privacy laws to shut down advertising research Reuters

© Reuters. File photo: The sign was seen at the Federal Trade Commission headquarters in Washington, DC, USA on August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Washington (Reuters)-Criticized by the US Federal Trade Commission Facebook (NASDAQ:) made a “misleading statement” on Thursday to explain why it disabled the accounts of researchers researching political ads on social media platforms.

Facebook said on Tuesday that it had cut off the personal accounts and access rights of New York University researchers out of concerns about the privacy of other users.

Facebook initially stated that it made this decision because the social media giant needs to abide by the agreement reached with the Federal Trade Commission.

But Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne later told Wired that the consent order was not a reason to disable the researcher’s account. Instead, the decree requires rules for privacy programs, which he said the researchers violated.

“Wired” magazine said that one of the researchers Laura Edelson denied any wrongdoing.

The FTC wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, saying that it was “inaccurate” to require the company to take action under the 2019 consent order.

Sam Levine, Acting Director of the FTC Consumer Protection Bureau, wrote: “Although I thank Facebook for correcting the record now, I am disappointed with your company’s performance in this matter.”

“The Federal Trade Commission has not received any notice that Facebook will publicly invoke our consent order earlier this week to justify the termination of academic research.”

Facebook paid a record $5 billion in fines to resolve FTC investigations into its privacy practices and strengthen the protection of user data.

“Although it is not our responsibility to resolve personal disputes between Facebook and third parties, we hope that the company will not use privacy-let alone the FTC consent order-as an excuse to advance other goals,” he wrote.

In addition, the Federal Trade Commission sued Facebook in December, claiming that it violated antitrust laws. The complaint was rejected and the agency had a deadline of August 19 to resubmit.

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