FTC Probes TikTok, Snap, Amazon and Twitter on User Data Collection

Rachel Uranga

Rachel Uranga is dot.LA's Managing Editor, News. She is a former Mexico-based market correspondent at Reuters and has worked for several Southern California news outlets, including the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. She has covered everything from IPOs to immigration. Uranga is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and California State University Northridge. A Los Angeles native, she lives with her husband, son and their felines.

FTC Probes TikTok, Snap, Amazon and Twitter on User Data Collection
Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

The Federal Trade Commission ordered TikTok, Snap, YouTube, Amazon and Twitter, along with four other social media and streaming sites to turn over information about how they collect and use information about users.

The far-reaching probe is aimed at exposing the algorithms and other tools that have fueled the technology companies' growth and helped them penetrate so deeply into the American psyche.

"Policymakers and the public are in the dark about what social media and video streaming services do to capture and sell users' data and attention. It is alarming that we still know so little about companies that know so much about us," three Federal Trade Commissioner said in a joint statement.


Discord, Facebook, Reddit and WhatsApp were also named in the order.

In launching the probe, the three said it "will lift the hood on the social media and video streaming firms." These social media companies, they argue, turned from a force to connect people to one that is monetizing Americans' private lives for their own financial gain.

The orders were issued under a provision of the Federal Trade Commission Act, Section 6(b), that gives the commission authority to conduct wide-ranging studies that don't have "a specific law enforcement purpose."

The companies have 45 days to respond.

Neither TikTok, which is based in Los Angeles and owned by China-based ByteDance, nor Santa Monica-based Snap responded to a request for comment.

The orders come as big tech companies are under increasing scrutiny from policymakers.

The FTC slapped Facebook with an antitrust lawsuit last month that accused the social media giant of gobbling up rivals like Instagram to weaken competition. And in October, the Department of Justice brought a civil case against Google, accusing the tech giant of having an illegal monopoly on search functionality and its associated advertising.

"We have reached a point of maturity or sophistication and usage where it's time for the government to ask questions about what information is being collected and how it's being used," said Karen North, a former official at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Clinton administration. "Knowing there is so much information that's been collected, the question becomes how is it being used to manipulate people and is there the kind of transparency demanded by regulation of traditional media."

https://twitter.com/racheluranga
rachel@dot.la

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Cadence

Netflix's New Culture Memo Addresses Censorship and Corporate Secrecy

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Netflix's New Culture Memo Addresses Censorship and Corporate Secrecy
Photo by Venti Views on Unsplash

Netflix promised change after its poor first-quarter earnings. One of the first targets: the Netflix Culture document.

The changes, which Variety reported on Thursday, indicate a new focus on fiscal responsibility and concern about censorship. While promises to support honest feedback and open decision-making remain, the memo’s first update in almost five years reveals that the days of lax spending are over. The newly added “artistic expression” section emphasizes Netflix’s refusal to censor its work and implores employees to support the platform’s content.

Read more Show less

‘Raises’: Mahmee Secures $9.2M, Wave Financial Launches $60M Fund

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

Raises
Image by Joshua Letona
In this week’s edition of “Raises”: It was another slow week on the deal front, but one maternal health startup, with a mission to fight maternal mortality, landed a deal with growth equity business Goldman Sachs. Meanwhile, a Los Angeles-based investment firm is launching its 8th digital asset fund of $60 million.
Read more Show less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
LA TECH JOBS
interchangeLA
Trending