WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US lawmakers lobbied Facebook Inc (NASDAQ 🙂 on Monday on why it deactivated the accounts of researchers studying political ads on the social media platform, saying it was “imperative” that experts be allowed to investigate “harmful activity … proliferating on their platforms “.
Facebook said Tuesday it had cut off the personal accounts and access of a group of New York University researchers, citing concerns about the privacy of other users.
Senators Amy Klobuchar, Mark Warner and Chris Coons pressured Facebook in a letter to Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to answer a series of questions. These include how many researchers or journalists have deactivated their accounts this year, why and how Facebook changed its terms of service to better accommodate the investigation.
Facebook has said the investigation violated rules to protect the privacy of users of the company’s social media.
Facebook paid a record $ 5 billion fine in 2019 to settle allegations that it had violated a Federal Trade Commission consent order by misleading users about how much control they had over their personal data.
Separately, the FTC sued Facebook in December for allegedly violating antitrust law. That complaint was dismissed and the agency has a deadline of August 19 to resubmit it.
In the letter, lawmakers also asked how the NYU investigators’ work harmed people’s privacy. They referenced a letter from Samuel Levine, the FTC’s acting director of consumer protection, saying the NYU investigation did not violate a consent agreement between the agency and Facebook.
“Does Facebook intend to restore access to Ad Watch researchers?” lawmakers asked, giving the company until Aug. 20 to respond.
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