'the FTC should be really angry'
The Facebook documents disclosed by whistleblower Frances Haugen have reportedly now sparked scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC is looking into whether the internal Facebook research that has been revealed in recent weeks may suggest the company violated a 2019 settlement with the agency, The Wall Street Journal reports. Facebook paid a $5 billion FTC settlement in 2019 over its handling of user data.
Haugen provided a set of Facebook documents to Congress that in one case showed the company's research suggested Instagram is harmful for many young users, as the Journal reported. The FTC has reportedly been in communication with Haugen's legal team.
Facebook has been facing growing scrutiny from lawmakers over the leaked documents, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told the Journal the FTC should be concerned about whether the company withheld information about its internal research from the agency.
"I think the FTC should be really angry if Facebook concealed this material from them as it did from us in the Congress and the public," Blumenthal said, adding that Facebook "evaded" questions from lawmakers about its research in August.
Former FTC Chair William Kovacic also told the Journal the FTC will likely examine whether Facebook was legally obligated to disclose the risks revealed in its internal research to users and whether it may have engaged in deceptive trade practices by not doing so.
Following Haugen's testimony before Congress earlier this month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote that many of her claims "don't make any sense" and that her allegation that the company prioritizes profits over users' safety is "just not true." Facebook in a statement to the Journal said it's "always ready to answer regulators' questions and will continue to cooperate with government inquiries."