The Federal Trade Commission is issuing orders to nine social media and video streaming platforms for data on how they collect personal information of their users.
The agency also wants data on advertising and other practices, and how it affects children.
The orders are. being sent to Amazon, TikTok parent ByteDance, Discord, Facebook, Reddit, Snap, Twitter, WhatsApp and YouTube.
“Social media and video streaming services have become almost unavoidable in today’s modern world, particularly as many Americans are working, socializing, and attending school online during the national pandemic,” FTC commissioners Rohit Chopra, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Christine Wilson said in a statement. “Despite their central role in our daily lives, the decisions that prominent online platforms make regarding consumers and consumer data remain shrouded in secrecy. Critical questions about business models, algorithms, and data collection and use have gone unanswered.”
They added that the agency “wants to understand how business models influence what Americans hear and see, with whom they talk, and what information they share.”
“The questions push to uncover how children and families are targeted and categorized,” they said. “These questions also address whether we are being subjected to social engineering experiments. And the FTC wants to better understand the financial incentives of social media and video streaming services.”
Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips dissented on the order. He said, “The breadth of the inquiry, the tangential relationship of its parts, and the dissimilarity of the recipients combine to render these orders unlikely to produce the kind of information the public needs, and certain to divert scarce Commission resources better directed elsewhere.”
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