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In an order issued Monday, the agency asked Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Amazon and five other social media platforms to share reams of information about their privacy and data collection practices.
The agency issued the orders under its broad powers to conduct wide-ranging studies without a specific law enforcement purpose. Advocates and policymakers have been pressuring the FTC to announce this type of study of social media companies for months.
The commission wants to know how the companies track personal and demographic information on users, how they determine which ads are shown, how their practices affect children and more.
The companies – which also include Reddit, Snap, Twitter, WhatsApp and Discord – have 45 days to respond.
Emily Birnbaum ( @birnbaum_e) is a tech policy reporter with Protocol. Her coverage focuses on the U.S. government's attempts to regulate one of the most powerful industries in the world, with a focus on antitrust, privacy and politics. Previously, she worked as a tech policy reporter with The Hill after spending several months as a breaking news reporter. She is a Bethesda, Maryland native and proud Kenyon College alumna.