FTC rebukes Facebook for ‘misleading’ comments about NYU researchers


Earlier this week, Facebook on its threats to chop a gaggle of New York University researchers off from its platform. The researchers had been a part of a venture referred to as the , which recruited volunteers to check how Facebook targets political advertisements on its platform.

In it determination to ban the researchers, Facebook repeatedly referred to its obligations to the FTC saying it was appearing in opposition to the researchers “in line with our privacy program under the FTC Order” — a reference to the corporate’s 2019 with the company over lax privateness practices. But the social community’s actions had been by the analysis neighborhood and free speech advocates, who stated the corporate was stopping authentic analysis below the guise of “scraping.” As Wired identified, the corporate’s settlement with the FTC doesn’t even prohibit what the researchers had been really doing.

Now, the FTC has , calling the corporate’s clarification of its actions was “misleading” and “inaccurate.” In a sharply worded letter addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection Samuel Levine, stated that he was “disappointed by how your company has conducted itself in this matter.”

“The FTC is committed to protecting the privacy of people, and efforts to shield targeted advertising practices from scrutiny run counter to that mission,” Levine wrote. “Had you honored your commitment to contact us in advance, we would have pointed out that the consent decree does not bar Facebook from creating exceptions for good-faith research in the public interest. Indeed, the FTC supports efforts to shed light on opaque business practices, especially around surveillance-based advertising. 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 to advance other aims.”

Facebook didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

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