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FTC wants to know how TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook use your data

Officials want to know if they're abusing personal info and putting kids at risk.

Published onDecember 14, 2020

  • The FTC has ordered TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and others to explain how they collect and use your data.
  • Officials want to know how they use data for ads and promoting videos.
  • They’re particularly concerned about how this affects kids and teens.

Are you worried that social video giants are mishandling your data? You’re not alone. As The Verge reports, the FTC has ordered Amazon, Discord, Facebook (including WhatsApp), Reddit, Snap, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok parent ByteDance to provide info on how they collect, use and present personal data.

On top of wanting to know how Facebook, TikTok and others gather that data, the FTC has asked the companies to show how they determine what content an ads you see, whether or not they use algorithms and analytics with data, and how they study “user engagement.” Officials are also interested in how all of these practices affect kids and teens.

See also: The best social media apps

The orders were part of a broader investigation and won’t necessarily lead to a crackdown. However, the FTC could take action if it decides that Facebook, TikTok and others abused their data.

This wouldn’t be an idle threat. The FTC inquired about tech giants’ acquisitions in February of this year, and in early December sued Facebook for alleged antitrust abuses that included its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. In an extreme case, the Commission could force companies to limit their data uses.

Some of these companies have reason to worry. TikTok is still facing the possibility of a US ban over concerns it might send user data to China’s government. The FTC order won’t necessarily lead to renewed calls for a ban, but it could easily ramp up scrutiny at an inopportune moment.