Investigation alleges Facebook violates consumers’ privacy — and an FTC consent decree against deception

Media Contacts
Ed Mierzwinski

Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program, U.S. PIRG Education Fund


Yesterday, The New York Times published the results of an investigation alleging that Facebook allowed big tech partners including Netflix and Spotify to access users’ personal data — including private Facebook messages — and ignored an FTC consent decree requiring users’ consent.

Ed Mierzwinski, Senior Director for Consumer Programs at U.S. PIRG, issued the following statement in response:

“Allegations that Facebook allowed numerous firms to access our most personal online information are extremely troubling, and demonstrate the company’s promiscuous attitude toward sharing consumer information. Violating both a consumer’s privacy settings and a Federal Trade Commission consent decree also shows disdain for consumers and the spirit of regulation that Facebook agreed to in 2011. If, upon further investigation, violations of the consent decree are confirmed, then the FTC should enforce the decree with fines for Facebook.

“The revelations in the Times’ story support the idea that Congress should pass federal privacy legislation to stop big tech companies from harvesting consumer information against consumers’ wishes and it must provide strong punishments if the companies fail to stick to their privacy promises. Further, any federal law must allow states to enact and enforce their own data privacy laws because states often can respond more strongly and quickly to privacy invasions that Congress failed to prevent.”