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Letter Submitted to the FTC on Use of Social Media Platforms’ Data for Surveillance

The Brennan Center, ACLU NorCal, and ACLU urge the Federal Trade Commission to ensure X and Meta are enforcing their policies protecting users against surveillance.

Published: December 12, 2023

On December 12, 2023, the Brennan Center, the ACLU of Northern California, and the ACLU submitted a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) raising concerns that X (formerly Twitter) and Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram) are failing to enforce their policies against developers’ use of platform data for surveillance purposes.

For years, X and Meta have prohibited developers from using social media data for surveillance purposes or sharing this data with law enforcement. Both platforms have also made several public announcements about this prohibition. Despite these policies and promises, it appears that multiple companies may be leveraging their developer access to X and Meta users’ data to power tools that collect and analyze information from social media. These companies then license these tools and data, including to law enforcement agencies. The claims made by these companies raise serious questions about whether X and Meta are enforcing their binding commitments to protect users’ privacy, potentially misleading their users in violation of the FTC Act and existing FTC consent decrees. We ask the FTC to seek further information from X and Meta to determine whether the companies are abiding by their policies and the obligations set out in their consent decrees with the commission.

FTC Letter Social Media Sur… by The Brennan Center for Justice