Facebook: Discussions With FTC About Recent Policy Changes Routine

Sen. Ed Markey calls social giant's shift 'troubling'

Facebook is talking with the Federal Trade Commission about its recent changes to its data-use policy. But the social network insists that the discussions are "routine" and that the controversial changes explaining how it uses consumer data in its ads aren't really changes at all, but merely "updates."

"We routinely discuss policy updates with the FTC and this time is no different. Importantly, our updated policies do not grant Facebook any additional rights to use consumer information in advertising. Rather, the new policies further clarify and explain our existing practices. We take these issues very seriously and are confident that our policies are fully compliant with our agreement with the FTC," said Facebook representative Jodi Seth.

The statement was issued in response to Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who Wednesday added his voice to a group of privacy organizations that have asked the FTC to examine whether or not the changes violate Facebook's 2011 consent decree with the agency. 

"This troubling shift in policy raises a number of questions about whether Facebook is improperly altering its privacy policy without proper user consent and, if the changes go into effect, the degree to which Facebook users will lose control over their personal information," Markey wrote in a letter to FTC chair Edith Ramirez. 

"The [FTC] settlement requires Facebook to 'clearly and prominently' provide consumers notice and obtain consumers 'affirmative express consent' before their information is shared beyond previously established privacy settings," Markey wrote.

Following a $20 million settlement from a class action suit, Facebook posted proposed changes to its policies right before Labor Day weekend, making it clear that Facebook has the right to use consumer information like names, faces and "likes" in advertising.