Federal Trade Commission Says It Is Investigating Facebook
NEW YORK - The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Facebook’s privacy practices following a week of privacy scandals including whether the company engaged in “unfair acts” that cause “substantial injury” to consumers.
Facebook’s stock, which already took a big hit last week, plunged as a result.
Facebook said in a statement on Monday that the company remains “strongly committed” to protecting people’s information and that it welcomes the opportunity to answer the FTC’s questions.
“The FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook,” said Tom Parl, the FTC’s aciting director of the Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
News outlets have reported on the FTC investigation last week, but the FTC hadn’t confirmed it until Monday. Facebook reached a settlement with the FTC in 2011 offering privacy assurances.
On Sunday, Facebook bought ads in U.S. and British newspapers to apologize for the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The social media site is also facing new questions about collecting phone numbers and text messages from Android devices.
The website Ars Technica reported that users who checked data gathered by Facebook on them found that it had years of contact names, telephone numbers, call lengths and text messages.
Facebook said Sunday the information is uploaded to secure servers and comes only from Android users who opt-in to allow it. Spokeswomen say the data is not sold or shared with users’ friends or outside apps. They say the data is used “to improve people’s experience across Facebook” by helping to connect with others.
The company also says in a website posting that it does not collect the content of text messages or calls. A spokeswoman told the Associated Press that Facebook uses the information to rank contacts in Messenger so they are easier to find, and to suggest people to call.
Users get the option to allow data collection when they sign up for Messenger or Facebook Lite, the Facebook posting said. “If you chose to turn this feature on, we will begin to continuously log this information,” the posting said.
The data collection can be turned off in a user’s settings, and all previously collected call and text history shared on the app will be deleted, Facebook said.
The feature was first introduced on Facebook Messenger in 2015 and added later on Facebook Lite.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.