Led by the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), a coalition of public health, media, youth, and consumer advocacy groups has written a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), asking the agency to review Facebook’s recent decision to relax its privacy protections for teenage users. According to an October 20, 2013, press release, the letter raises concerns about the social networking site’s new terms of service agreement, which, among other things, apparently gives Facebook “permission to use, for commercial purposes, the name, profile picture, actions, and other information concerning its teen users.” It also objects to a new condition of service that asks 13-to-17-yearolds to “represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) on your behalf.”

In particular, the coalition argues that these proposed changes “would expose teens to the same problematic data collection and sophisticated ad-targeted practices that adults currently face.” As CDD Executive Director Jeff Chester further explained to the media, “It’s all about monetization and being where the public dialogue is. To the extent that Facebook encourages people to put everything out there, it’s incredibly attractive to Facebook’s advertisers.”  

“The FTC, which has acknowledged that teens require special privacy safeguards, must act now to limit the ways in which Facebook collects data and engages in targeted marketing directed at adolescents,” concludes the letter. “It should prevent Facebook from imposing unfair terms on teens and their parents that place them in a position of having to say they secured informed, affirmative consent from a parent or guardian.” See The New York Times, October 16, 2013.