Facebook’s lead European regulator has been asked by Britain’s information watchdog to investigate how the company targets, monitors and shows adverts to users. The watchdog is reportedly concerned about some practices at the world’s biggest social network.
Britain’s Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has been investigating the use of data analytics to influence politics after consultancy Cambridge Analytica obtained the personal data of 87 million Facebook users from a researcher.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, the British watchdog said on November 6 that, as part of that inquiry, it had also found broader issues at Facebook, which it had referred to Ireland’s data regulator, the lead supervisor for the social network in the European Union.
A spokeswoman for the British watchdog said it had been made aware of fake political adverts on the network.
Facebook said it looked forward to discussing the matter. “We regularly engage with regulators regarding our advertising tools, which we believe fully comply with EU data protection laws,” a spokeswoman said.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed the role that personal data plays both for marketers and political groups in the internet age.
“Citizens can only make truly informed choices about who to vote for if they are sure that those decisions have not been unduly influenced,” Britain’s Information Commissioner said in a report to lawmakers published on November 6.
“We have uncovered a disturbing disregard for voters’ personal privacy,” Denham said. “Social media platforms, political parties, data brokers and credit reference agencies have started to question their own processes – sending ripples through the big data eco-system.”