Federal Trade Commission staffers have begun looking into disclosures that Facebook’s internal company research had identified ill effects from its products, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Officials are looking into whether Facebook research documents indicate that it might have violated a 2019 settlement with the agency over privacy concerns, for which the company paid a record $5 billion penalty, one of the people said.
The internal research found evidence that the company’s algorithms foster discord and that its Instagram app is harmful for a sizable percentage of its users, notably teenage girls, among other findings. The documents provided the foundation for The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files series.
In a statement, Facebook said that it is “always ready to answer regulators’ questions and will continue to cooperate with government inquiries.”
“Beginning in September 2021, we became subject to government investigations and requests relating to a former employee’s allegations and release of internal company documents concerning, among other things, our algorithms, advertising and user metrics, and content enforcement practices, as well as misinformation and other undesirable activity on our platform, and user well-being,” the company said in its quarterly earnings filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Juliana Gruenwald of the FTC’s Office of Public Affairs declined to comment, adding, “FTC investigations are nonpublic so we generally do not comment on whether we are investigating a particular matter.”
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