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FTC Mandates Data Collection Methods From Amazon, Facebook, TikTok

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has mandated that nine social media companies and streaming services — including Amazon, Facebook, TikTok, Reddit, and more — turn over information about how they collect data, according to a press release.

The FTC voted 4-1 to issue orders to Amazon, ByteDance (operators of TikTok), Discord, Facebook, Reddit, Snap, Twitter, WhatsApp and YouTube to provide data relating to advertising and user engagement. The companies have to offer a response within 45 days, the release stated.

The information being sought is related to how data is collected; how ad distribution is determined; how measurements are conducted; and how children and teens are affected, according to the release.

The orders were issued under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which extends permission for inquiries by the FTC without specific law enforcement purpose, the release stated. Four of the FTC’s commissioners voted in favor of the order; Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips dissented.

“Despite their central role in our daily lives, the decisions that prominent online platforms make regarding consumers and consumer data remain shrouded in secrecy,” Commissioners Rohit Chopra, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Christine S. Wilson said in a joint statement.

The FTC initiated a separate 6(b) study earlier this year to look into past acquisitions by Google parent Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, CNBC reported.

Earlier this month, the FTC and a coalition of attorneys general from 48 states and territories filed two separate antitrust lawsuits against Facebook, targeting the social media giant’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. The complaint accuses Facebook of using its dominant position to maintain its monopoly.

In response, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operations officer of Facebook, said approved mergers shouldn’t later be revoked. She pointed out that Facebook does in fact have competition by way of TikTok, SnapChat and others.

California said last week that it is considering a move to join the Department of Justice‘s (DOJ) antitrust lawsuit against Google. The DOJ and 11 Republican state attorneys general filed an October suit that alleges Google used anti-competitive tactics against rivals.

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