Following Wednesday’s Senate hearing on the Facebook data breach and Cambridge Analytica scandal, Common Sense Media released a statement from its founder and CEO Jim Steyer, who has been a public advocate for protecting children online for over 15 years. As a result of the technical explanations offered by witnesses at the hearing — including Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos, FTC commissioner Rohit Vemparala, and Deloitte cybersecurity expert Alan
Protecting kids and families on Facebook
At its core, the issue is that Facebook is a for-profit business that has never prioritized the well-being of its users over its own bottom line. Facebook uses algorithms to identify and serve ads to users based on the information that users provide to Facebook as well as the activity of Facebook users on and off the platform. Steyer previously called on the FTC to protect children and families on Facebook by limiting how advertisers could use data from children’s profiles, clarifying which data businesses can collect on children and families, and imposing enforceable privacy policies that would hold Facebook accountable for protecting kids’ information.
Limiting ad targeting options for kids’ data
Steyer previously called on the FTC to limit how advertisers could use data from children’s profiles, including their names, photos, and likes. Data from children’s profiles is often used to create sensitive ad categories that can be used to target other kids. Steyer previously called on the FTC to prohibit the targeting of ads and sponsored posts by advertisers to kids and families based on data from their children’s profiles.
Pass a simple, comprehensive federal data protection standard
Steyer previously called for the passage of a simple, comprehensive federal data protection standard that would ensure parents have access to the controls, information, and protections they need to keep their children safe and fully in control of their own data. Steyer also invited Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee to address the allegations about the company’s activities and explain how he plans to address them.
Create a Global Forum to fight international data exploitation
Steyer previously called on the U.S. government to take a leadership role in creating a Global Forum to fight international data exploitation. Steyer also invited Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee to address the allegations about the company’s activities and explain how he plans to address them.
Steyer and Common Sense Media have long called on Facebook to protect kids, families, and the integrity of its platform by limiting the amount of user data accessible to advertisers and third-party developers, and by designating a specific team of human editors to review each violent video so it is not automatically reposted and shared. Unfortunately, Facebook has continually failed to prioritize these issues, and many of the company’s executive have not been fully transparent about their business practices and their ability to address these concerns. Steyer will continue to advocate for stronger federal data protections and policies, as well as more oversight from U.S. regulators, to ensure that Facebook, and other tech companies, are held accountable for their handling of user data and online privacy practices.