Public Health, Youth, Consumer Groups Urge FTC To Examine Facebook’s Policy Changes

By David Cohen 

The Federal Trade Commission is getting another earful about the update to Facebook’s data use policy and statement of rights and responsibilities, which the social network announced Aug. 29, and this time, the opposition is coming from a coalition of more than 20 public health, youth, and consumer groups.

The Los Angeles Times reported that groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Collaboration for Youth, Pediatrics Now, and Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity were among the groups that sent a letter to the FTC Tuesday, urging the commission to closely examine Facebook’s policy revision stating that parents or legal guardians of users under 18 automatically grant their consent for the social network to use the teens’ images and personal information in advertising.

The letter stated:

It is essential, when teens are involved, that the FTC ensure that Facebook is engaged in fair marketing practices, including its terms of service. Facebook has positioned itself to take full commercial advantage of all the social interactions of adolescents on its online platforms, using a myriad of data-­enabled marketing techniques little understood by the average user.

Gwenn O’Keefe of Pediatrics Now added in a statement, as reported by the Times:

It’s in everyone’s interest that Facebook create an environment that is appropriate and healthy for the development of teens.

The social network responded with a statement of its own:

We want to get this right and are taking the time to review feedback, respond to any concerns, and clarify the explanations of our practices. We routinely discuss policy updates with the FTC and are confident that our policies are fully compliant with our agreement.

Readers: What action, if any, will the FTC take?