Facebook would now be preparing itself for defending a trial in the courts after the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a formal legal case with the Federal Trade Commission, in which it has alleged the facebook on engaging in deceptive trade practices and also on violation of 2012 consent order that was entered into the FTC. The formal complaint filed against facebook asks the agency that they should begin an investigation, and this lawsuit comes after a stir was created, when it was revealed that facebook manipulated the newsfeed of about 689,003 users in the year 2012.
EPIC has also earlier filed complaints against facebook, and many times they were the winners afterwards. The FTC’s settlement of 2012 with Facebook was followed from a objection that was filed by EPIC with collaboration of an organization of privacy and civil liberties in the December of 2009 and a supplement complaint that was filed by EPIC in the February of 2010.
In this subject, FTC settled charges against facebook on the basis of that it deceived users by telling them that they could keep all their info facebook as private, but then violating it and sharing it repeatedly and making it public. There are three counts on facebook which are discusses below.
Count 1: Deceptive Failure of Informing Users about Third Party Researchers
Facebook represented to users that company will only share data with the friends of users on facebook, developers and advertisers. But facebook shared the data with the third party unknown researchers of different universities for a study.
In this regard, facebook is in violation of section 5(a) of FTC Act 15 U.S.C
Count II: Unfair Failure in Informing Users about their they being Subject of Behavioral Testing
As stated above, facebook subjected various users to some ongoing behavioral testing by collecting the data of users and then feeding it to various algorithms. Users could have in no possible way guessed that they are subject to some kind of testing. Thus facebook failed in disclosing its users about the manipulation of newsfeed. In this regard facebook has violated the Section 5(a) of FTC Act 15 U.S.C.
Count III. Violation of the Consent Order of 2012
The third counts states, that as described above, facebook misrepresented the data collection practices, which is in contravention of count I of the order of consent. Facebook misrepresented to to that extent in which it made the private info accessible to third parties, which is also in contravention of the Consent order Count I.
In this regard, facebook is found in violating Count I of 2012 consent order with FTC and is now subject to FTC enforcement in the federal district court. EPIC in their complaint has asked the FTC to instigate an investigation on Facebook’s manipulation of the newsfeed of their users and the transfer of data to third parties without the consent of users. The group has also asked the FTC to force facebook to make the algorithm of manipulating newsfeed public.