More than 20 consumer and children’s advocacy groups have asked the Federal Trade Commission to step in and stop proposed changes to Facebook data policies, citing the impact that the social network’s practices might have on teens who use the site.
The groups, which include the Consumers Union and the American Academy of Pediatrics, asked FTC Chairman Edith Ramirez in a letter Tuesday to “protect this vulnerable group” of users, ages 13 to 17. The letter notes research that indicates teens are more highly influenced by the choices and preferences of others in their peer group, and argues that they should be governed by separate rules on the site.
“They should not be subjected to the same range of sophisticated ad-targeting practices that Facebook imposes on adults,” the groups said in the letter.
“Facebook has acknowledged that teens can be subjected to unfair practices from peers — such as cyber-bullying,” Chester said in an e-mail to The Washington Post. “It now needs to adopt privacy and marketing safeguards for teens as well.”
Facebook could not immediately be reached for comment.
The letter follows Facebook’s announcement of proposed changes to its data-use policy and its statement of rights and responsibilities, which explicitly say that the social network can use information such as user photos, names and information on what users “like” in advertising on the site.
Some of those changes were made in response to a multimillion-dollar settlement with Facebook users who said the company had used their images and information in ads without due notice or compensation. Facebook said that the revisions to its policies were to clarify its practices, but that it had not changed the scope of its activities.
Facebook confirmed last week that the agency is evaluating the newest version of the policy, calling it a routine discussion of policy updates. The social network had originally planned to implement the newest policies sometime last week but has yet to make them official.
(Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)