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FTC To Hold 'Town Meeting' On Social Network Marketing

The Federal Trade Commission has promised to hold a "town meeting" in the fall to gather more information on behavioral targeting and online marketing.

That's according to The Center For Digital Democracy, which filed a complaint with the FTC in November about the practices.

Jeff Chester, the center's executive director (, argues that the media-control battleground is not how many stations a company owns, but how many online platforms it controls, citing a threat to privacy

“The corporate media interests—Silicon Valley, Hollywood, advertising—are defining our media future,” Chester told B&C in March. “They have created a business model based on social networks [à la News Corp.’s MySpace] to evolve a series of key platforms in every community across the country that will be powerful forces in people’s lives. All content, programming and media use is being bundled together. You won’t separate your video from where you get your [instant messaging] from where you get cellphones from where you post your photos from where you meet your friends.”

So, is the FTC's agreement to hold a town meeting progress or a polite brush-off. Chester says the former. "I think we have woken the FTC to a set of disturbing practices at the heart of the media business model of the future," he said, though adding that the FTC needs to do much more. "While such "town halls" are useful for the public, the so-called "expert" agency designated to protect our privacy should be ready to recommend safeguards--not urge more investigation," he said.