AboutFace: Antitrust Investigation, Privacy and Snooping

Facebook-Instagram Deal to be Delayed by FTC Antitrust Probe

Reports are circulating that the $1 billion Facebook-Instagram deal could be put on hold by as much as a year while the FTC conducts an antitrust investigation into the deal.  As the New York Times indicates, “[t]he government could also be interested in whether a company is killing off a potential rival by swallowing it up.”

This is not the first time antitrust issues have been raised about Facebook’s activities.  It currently is defending an antitrust complaint filed by PageRage which alleges Facebook pressured advertisers to stop doing business with them. In addition, allegations have been made that Facebook credits are anticompetitive as well.

Facebook Changes Privacy Policy, May Use Data to Serve Ads Outside Site

Facebook announced updates to its Data Use Policy to make clear that they may use information collected to display ads to users outside of Facebook, a practice already engaged in by sites such as LinkedIn and Amazon.  As explained by Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer, [e]verything you do and say on Facebook can be used to serve you ads.  Our policy says that we can advertise services to you off of Facebook based on data we have on Facebook.”

Maryland Becomes First State to Ban Employer Social Snooping

A practice that was once employed by the Maryland Department of Corrections is now banned state-wide, as Maryland’s Governor signed legislation prohibiting employers from “request[ing] or requir[ing] that at an employee or applicant disclose [any] means for accessing a personal account or service through an electronic communications device.”  California’s Assembly unanimously passed similar legislation this week and legislation is pending in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and in Congress.

More Info: Facebook Instagram deal delay threat, CNN; Why Would the Feds Investigate the Facebook-Instagram Deal?, New York Times; Facebook Broke Antitrust Law By Choking Ads Says Developer, Paid Content; Law firms: Facebook Credits violates antitrust law, ZDNet;  Facebook Privacy Policy Change Paves Way For Off-Facebook Advertising, Forbes; SNOPA bill seeks to keep employers out of private social networks, Los Angeles Times; Maryland becomes first state to prohibit employers from asking for Facebook logins, Washington Post.

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