Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Republican FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson wants her agency to probe how social media companies use consumers’ information to shape the algorithms that determine what their users see and read.

Why it matters: A wide-ranging study of social media data practices could lay the groundwork for more enforcement from the agency, as well as legislative recommendations to Congress.

Driving the news: Wilson said she supports studying how tech companies use children’s data, and then pushed for a broader review of data practices during an interview I conducted for C-SPAN’S "The Communicators."

  • The FTC can order companies to answer questions about business practices for wide-ranging studies that don’t have a specific law enforcement goal, under what's known as 6(b) authority.
  • As the FTC considers updates to its children's online privacy rules, advocates have pushed the agency to conduct such a study on children’s data. Wilson said she thinks the commission should do that, and more.
  • “ I think more generally the social media companies that we interact with essentially every day raise significant and important questions that I think the FTC needs to delve deeper into,” Wilson said. “So, for example, how information is collected and shared and monetized, and how that feeds into algorithms and how that affects the content curation of the algorithms and the promotion of certain content. I think the more we know in this area, the better.”

Don’t forget: The FTC already is conducting a study on broadband providers’ privacy practices, seeking information from Comcast, Google Fiber, T-Mobile, Charter, and AT&T and Verizon advertising subsidiaries.

  • That effort, announced in March, is focused on the categories of personal information collected about consumers or their devices, whether customers have a choice in what’s collected, and the processes to change or delete the information.
  • Wilson cautioned there could be constraints on the agency’s ability to conduct the studies. The FTC has to seek additional clearance if it wants information from 10 or more companies through a study.

The big picture: The FTC has already penalized Facebook with a $5 billion fine for privacy violations. Although critics said it wasn't enough to change the company's behavior, it was an unprecedentedly huge settlement.

Go deeper

Cold December as safety nets expire

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Safety nets are likely to be yanked from underneath millions of vulnerable Americans in December, as the coronavirus surges.

Why it matters: Those most at risk are depending on one or more relief programs that are set to expire, right as the economic recovery becomes more fragile than it's been in months.

15 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

17 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.