The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued orders to eight social media and video streaming platforms, including Meta Platforms, Inc., Instagram, LLC, and YouTube, LLC, seeking information on how these companies scrutinize and restrict paid commercial advertising that is deceptive or exposes consumers to fraudulent health-care products, financial scams, counterfeit and fake goods, or other fraud.
According to FTC data, the amount of money consumers have reported losing to fraud that originated on social media platforms has skyrocketed since 2017. In 2022 alone, consumers reported losing more than $1.2 billion to fraud that started on social media, more than any other contact method.
The orders will collect information about the companies’ standards and policies related to paid commercial ads and their processes for screening and monitoring for compliance with those standards and policies, including through human review and the use of automated systems. The orders also require the companies to report their ad revenue, the number of ad views, and other performance metrics, including for ads involving categories of products and services more prone to deception such as those intended to treat, prevent, or cure substance use disorders and tout income opportunities.
“The study will help the FTC ensure that social media and video streaming companies are doing everything they can to keep scammers and deceptive ads off their platforms,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The orders seek information for the calendar years 2019 through 2023, which allows for the Commission to study relevant business conduct since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The orders were sent using the FTC’s 6(b) authority, which authorizes the Commission to conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose.
The Commission voted 4-0 during an open meeting to issue the 6(b) orders to the eight social media and video service services.
Laura Sullivan and Rafael Reyneri from the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection are the staff attorneys on this matter.