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Democrats Want Probes On Whether Facebook Misled Advertisers

 |  December 9, 2021

Two powerful Senate Democrats are calling federal enforcers to probe whether Facebook misled customers and investors about key advertising metrics, an allegation at the heart of whistleblower Frances Haugen’s legal complaints about the company, reported the Washington Post.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the chair of the Banking subcommittee on economic policy, sent a letter Thursday to the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission asking them to look into whether high-level company executives knew that the company “meaningfully and consistently inflated” a key metric about how many people in a given area could view an ad. Advertisers factored this metric into decisions about ad buys.

“Facebook is not above the law,” she wrote in the letter, shared exclusively with The Washington Post. “The company’s executives cannot mislead investors, the SEC, its advertising customers, and the public about a core metric of its business model with impunity if such actions violate federal wire fraud or securities laws.”

Warren’s letter comes closely on the heels of another senior Democrat’s similar request. Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), chair of the Commerce Committee, on Wednesday called the Federal Trade Commission to look into whether the company deceived its advertising customers on these same metrics. She asked the agency to investigate whether the company might have misrepresented its processes for ensuring brand safety, citing documents revealed by Haugen suggesting the company misrepresented its efficacy at removing hate speech.

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