US FTC seeks to know how Facebook, other social media platforms use users’ data

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sought to know how the social media and video streaming companies, including Facebook and Twitter, use personal information that they collect from their users, the US agency said in a statement.

Besides Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc, the order has been sent to Facebook subsidiary WhatsApp, Inc, TikTok (a unit of China’s ByteDance), Discord Inc, Reddit Inc, Snap Inc, and Google’s subsidiary Youtube LLC.

The FTC has also sought to know how these companies decide to show advertisements to their users. Besides this, the way companies use algorithms have also been asked. The companies will have to respond to the orders within 45 days.

Releasing a joint statement on the orders, two democratic, Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Slaughter, and one Republic member of the commission, Christine Wilson, said, “Never before has there been an industry capable of surveilling and monetizing so much of our personal lives.”

“Social media and video streaming companies now follow their users everywhere through apps on their always-present mobile device. This constant access allows these firms to monitor where users go, the people with whom they interact, and what they are doing…Too much about the companies remains opaque,” they added.

“We make no from advertising, selling users’ data to advertisers, or sharing users’ personal information with others. Instead, the company generates its revenue directly from the users through a paid subscription service,” a spokesperson from Discard said in an e-mailed statement.