The FTC slammed Facebook for the way it justified its decision to disable the accounts of third-party researchers who were studying political ads on the platform.

The encounter happened on Aug.5 as the Federal Trade Commission or FTC led the hearing against the social media giant.

FTC Says Facebook's Reason is Inaccurate

Facebook said that it had disabled the personal accounts and access of the researchers from New York University because it was concerned about the users' privacy.

Facebook claimed that it made the decision to ban the researchers because the company wanted to live up to an agreement with the agency in 2020, according to The Verge.

Joe Osborne, Facebook's spokesman, told Wired that the decree was not the main reason the social media giant banned the accounts of the academic researchers.

Also Read: Facebook-WhatsApp deal leaves angry privacy advocates knocking on FTC door

The decree required Facebook to create rules for a privacy program, and it was what the researchers had violated, resulting in their ban.

Wired reported that one of the researchers, Laura Edelson, denied that they'd violated any rules.

The FTC posted a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying that the justification of its actions was inaccurate because it was never stated in the consent decree that the social media giant needs to create a privacy program.

Sam Levine, the FTC's acting director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated that the agency is disappointed by how Facebook has conducted itself in the matter.

The agency has not received any notice that they would invoke their consent decree to justify banning academic researchers.

The social media giant paid a $5 billion fine to resolve the FTC probe into its privacy practices last year and has since improved the protection of its user data.

Although it is not their role to resolve individual disputes between the social media company and third-party companies, Levine added that they still want to make sure that Facebook is not invoking privacy as a pretext to advance other aims.

Facebook's Antitrust Lawsuit

Last year, the FTC sued Facebook for violating the antitrust law. The court dismissed the complaint, and the agency has until Aug. 19 to refile it.

According to Forbes, a federal district court ruled favor the social media giant in lawsuits brought by the Federal Trade Commission. The court stated that the agency could file its complaint again.

The agency accused the social media company of violating the antitrust law by buying the shares of their competitors like WhatsApp and Instagram.

US District Judge James Boasberg stated that the agency's claims about Facebook were insufficient, which was why the court dismissed it. The case was light on factual allegations even if the court revealed they disagree with Facebook's contentions.

Letitia James, New York's Attorney General, was the one who led 48 states to sue Facebook separately for an antitrust violation. The cases were also dismissed by Boasberg, who said the states brought their case too late.

After the cases against Facebook were dropped, the company enjoyed a 4% rise in its stock, and the company had hit a $1 trillion market cap. The social media giant was pleased with the court's decision, stating "defects in the complaints."

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Written by Sophie Webster

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