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Facebook critics file FTC complaint over breach of 30 million accounts

The Verge logo The Verge 11/15/2018 Colin Lecher
a group of people posing for the camera © Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A coalition of Facebook critics has filed a complaint against the company with the Federal Trade Commission, asking the agency to investigate this year’s breach of 30 million user accounts.

In September, the company first announced that 50 million users had their accounts improperly accessed because of a flaw in a Facebook feature, but it later revised the figure down. The company said hackers accessed data ranging from basic contact information to more sensitive information, like demographics and recent searches.

“Facebook, Inc. is a serial privacy violator.”

The complaint was filed today by the Freedom From Facebook Coalition, which has pushed for the breakup of the company.

“Facebook, Inc. is a serial privacy violator that cannot be trusted,” the complaint reads. “It has grown too big and its products have become too integrated and too complex to manage. Not only can we no longer trust Facebook, Inc. to manage its system safely, the corporation no longer has the capacity to do so effectively.”

The group argues that the breach may put Facebook in violation of a 2011 privacy agreement with the FTC, and it also says the company’s security lapse could qualify as an “unfair” practice under the law.

Facebook is still reeling from a New York Times report published yesterday that documented three years of turmoil inside the company. The piece noted that organizers from Freedom From Facebook held up signs during a congressional hearing that showed Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg as an octopus encircling the globe. The group said it was a reference to cartoons depicting Standard Oil, although the creature also has a history as an anti-Semitic trope. Facebook reportedly brought the signs to the attention of the Anti-Defamation League, which issued a statement criticizing the protest.

Facebook did not immediately have a comment on the complaint.

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