WASHINGTON—Several advocacy groups are urging the Federal Trade Commission to seek a breakup of Facebook Inc. FB +0.21% as it weighs possible penalties against the social media company for privacy violations.
Facebook has acknowledged that the data firm Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained personal data of millions of users. The FTC is nearing completion of an investigation into the matter and is weighing penalties, including a substantial fine.
Among other remedies, “the FTC should require Facebook to unwind the acquisition of both WhatsApp and Instagram” for its failure to protect the data of those apps’ users, according to a draft letter from the groups to the FTC. A copy of the letter, dated Jan. 24, was obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
“Facebook has operated for too long with too little accountability,” said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, one of the groups expected to sign the letter. Others include Color of Change, which advocates racial justice, and Open Markets Institute, which promotes business competition.
WhatsApp is a text-messaging app and Instagram allows users to share photos and videos.
The FTC, which is now subject to the partial government shutdown, didn’t respond to requests for comment. One legal expert said the commission was unlikely to seek a breakup but could impose a significant fine.