NEW YORK — McDonald’s, Subway and General Mills are in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after the companies’ online marketing was found to be in breach of privacy laws designed to protect young people, according to a New York Times report.
The questionable online practices, cited by children’s advocacy groups, appear on McDonald’s HappyMeal.com, General Mills’ ReesesPuffs.com and Subway’s SubwayKids.com, among other sites. The Internet marketing — in particular ‘refer-a-friend’ promotions used in online games — is being reviewed by the FTC.
In a New York Times story, Laura Moy of the Center for Digital Democracy, a non-profit in Washington, D.C., said, “It really shows companies are doing an end-run around a law put in place to protect children’s privacy.” Moy, who spearheaded the campaign against the sites, said the practice the companies used could be perceived as devious. “Under the law, they can’t collect email addresses from kids and send them marketing material directly. So they‘re embedding messages saying, ‘play this game and share it with your friends,’ in order to target the friends.”
For more about this marketing story, visit nytimes.com.