The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or any federal agency, rarely confirms an ongoing investigation. But the FTC is confirming that it’s investigating the social media giant’s privacy practices in the wake of Facebook’s potentially illegally misuse of personal data belonging to millions of Americans.
In a statement, the acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Tom Pahl, said the following:
“The FTC is firmly and fully committed to using all of its tools to protect the privacy of consumers. Foremost among these tools is enforcement action against companies that fail to honor their privacy promises, including to comply with Privacy Shield, or that engage in unfair acts that cause substantial injury to consumers in violation of the FTC Act. Companies who have settled previous FTC actions must also comply with FTC order provisions imposing privacy and data security requirements. Accordingly, the FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook. Today, the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices.”
Earlier this month, reports in the New York Times and the Observer of London indicated UK-based political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, had been able to buy data on 50 million Facebook users in 2015 to use for micro-targeting political advertising.
The consultancy has been linked to the Donald Trump presidential campaign. The data had extracted from a third-party survey app running on Facebook’s platform. The data in question was pulled on the friends of the 270,000 respondents who answered the survey.