or years, one of the NSA’s most effective methods for avoiding public accountability was to redefine common English without explicitly telling anyone. Words like “surveillance” would be defined so narrowly as to lose all meaning, and phrases like “relevant to an investigation” would be expanded so greatly as to encompass everything. (Read this compendium of the NSA’s dictionary put together by the ACLU for a full explanation.)
Facebook reportedly leaned on redefining one key phrase to escape scrutiny of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the agency’s supposed regulatory powers: “service provider.”
As the Times explained, Facebook has been under a consent decree with the FTC since 2012, when the agency reprimanded the social media giant for violating users’ privacy. Facebook was at least supposed to follow strict rules about when and why it could not share users’ data with others. But as the Times reported, Facebook relied on quietly redefining “service provider” to get everything it wanted.
According to the Times, there was a service provider exception to the strict privacy rules set by the FTC, which was “intended to allow Facebook to perform the same everyday functions as other companies, such as sending and receiving information over the internet or processing credit card transactions, without violating the consent decree.”
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction