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Facebook Defends Data Sharing Tool As FTC Compliant

Facebook is defending its data sharing tool, saying it was in compliance with a 2011 privacy agreement with the Federal Trade Commission.

The social media site just admitted that the data scandal with Cambridge Analytica could involve more users than the originally estimated 50 million. In fact, Facebook now says that up to 87 million users may have had their data shared with the research firm.

According to Bloomberg, the FTC is investigating whether Facebook violated the 2011 law that requires the company to get consent from users before sharing information. Investigators will also look into whether Facebook misled users or violated rules governing data shipments between Europe and the U.S.

“I think we’re very confident that that was in compliance with the FTC consent decree,” Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said Thursday in an interview.

A spokeswoman later said that the data on friends who were not direct users of the app was passed along in adherence with their privacy settings.

Many of those approximately 87 million users were located in the United States, Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer said in a blog post.

While Schroepfer did not say how Facebook calculated its estimate, he said the company would tell users if their data was shared with Cambridge Analytica. In addition, Facebook said it will limit the personal data that third-party developers can access on its platform.

The company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is set to testify about Cambridge Analytica’s alleged misuse of the social media platform’s data. He is scheduled to appear before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, as well as the Senate judiciary and commerce committees on April 10.

“This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) — the panel’s top Republican and Democrat, respectively — said in a statement.

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