Facebook Faces Potential Ban of Youth Data Monetization

The Federal Trade Commission has proposed a ban that will prevent Facebook parent company Meta from profiting off youth data. The federal agency said the ban would include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and other Meta products.

The proposed ban extends beyond simply prohibiting Meta from profiting off data derived from children. Further limitations would be imposed on how Meta interacts with youths, including the company needing explicit consent to harvest facial recognition data as well as being forced to pause new product releases until they’re confirmed as compliant with the new privacy rules. Furthermore, data collected by users under 18 would be permanently unmonetizable, not becoming eligible for monetization even after those users are no longer minors.

As to what irked the FTC enough to pitch this proposal in the first place? It all boils down to Meta’s supposed repeated violations of privacy commitments.

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“The company’s recklessness has put young users at risk, and Facebook needs to answer for its failures,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

According to the FTC, specific instances of such reckless behavior include Meta misleading parents about their control over the Messenger Kids app as well as misrepresenting what access the app gave developers to private user data. Both purported misdeeds violate a 2020 privacy order Facebook was expected to comply with.

Given the wide range of Meta products that heavily court youth, such changes to the company’s privacy behavior would be sweeping. Messenger Kids, as noted in the FTC proposal, is just a single facet of Facebook, wherein youths are omnipresent. That’s also the case for Meta products such as Instagram and Oculus, the former being a social melting pot for app-inclined minors and the latter serving as an inviting, beginner-friendly virtual reality brand built perfectly for youths who don’t want to fuss with the more advanced VR options on the market.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

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