Facebook is yet again facing the heat over growing privacy concerns. The website’s small print could attract the wrath of European antitrust laws this time around as privacy watchdogs begin investigating how the largest social networking site in the world serving more than two billion accounts collects information from users.
The overwhelming amount of user-data the website collects helps it generate vast advertising revenues. So, basically Facebook’s business model treats users as products and advertisers as the target market. Needless to say, a business model of that sort is destined to be mired in controversy from time to time due to potential infringement of users’ right to privacy.
According to reports, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office is assessing whether Facebook actually takes advantage of its ever expanding popularity for bullying users into giving consent to terms and condition that they might not even understand.
The charges are serious as the Cartel Office seems to be of the view that Facebook indulges in extortion of information from users, Frederik Wiemer, a lawyer at Heuking Kuehn Lueer Wojtek in Hamburg, points out, theIndependent reports.
“Whoever doesn’t agree to the data use, gets locked out of the social network community,” he said. “The fear of social isolation is exploited to get access to the complete surfing activities of users.”
Cartel Office’s president Andreas Mundt said last week that he was “eager to present first results” of the ongoing investigation sometime later this year. Just like in the case involving EU’s Google investigation, the charges against Facebook also revolves around the “central questions ensuring competition in the digital world in the future.”
Meanwhile, the Mark Zuckerberg-owned company has refused to comment on the possible outcome of the investigation, but assured that it was operating as per the law and would offer full cooperation to the investigating bodies.