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FTC orders Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, TikTok, YouTube, and four other companies to turn over information on data collection

Twitter-Welcome Message on Screen of Cell Phone With Coffee Cup Next to It on Table 2617330_640The Federal Trade Commission is issuing orders to nine social media and video streaming companies, requiring them to provide data on how they collect and use information from their users, the FTC announced Monday.

The orders are being sent to Amazon, ByteDance, which operates the short video service TikTok, Discord, Facebook, Reddit, Snap, Twitter, WhatsApp, and YouTube.

The companies will have 45 days to respond.

The FTC is issuing the orders under Section 6(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which authorizes the agency to conduct broad studies that don’t have a specific law enforcement purpose.

The FTC is seeking information on:

  • How social media and video streaming services collect, use, track, estimate, or derive personal and demographic information.
  • How they determine which ads and other content are shown to consumers.
  • Whether they apply algorithms or data analytics to personal information.
  • How they measure, promote, and research user engagement.
  • How their practices affect children and teens.

Although the data collected is for information, it can be used in enforcement actions if the agency finds evidence that laws have been broken.

The FTC’s request comes as the agency is taking a sweeping look at the tech industry related to information it has on its users, what it does with it, and how it uses it in its businesses.

Part of the FTC's scrutiny this year is reviewing acquisitions by big tech companies.

In early December, the FTC filed a lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly violating federal antitrust laws by purchasing emerging competitors to maintain a monopoly.

The lawsuit, coordinated with a similar lawsuit filed by forty-eight attorneys general, asks for an injunction to stop Facebook from engaging in further anticompetitive conduct and to give advance notice of mergers and acquisitions by the company.

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