The Meta empire could be hit with sanctions by The Federal Trade Commission for misusing and profiteering from children’s data to sell virtual reality products and target harmful advertising campaigns.

Other social media networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram – which are all managed under the Meta Group – would be subject to pay a $5 million penalty following a privacy review which unveiled significant flaws and weaknesses in their protocols to protect children in online forums and messaging apps.

Facebook has “repeatedly” fallen below “privacy promises” warranting the sanction, said Samuel Levine, director of the Commission’s consumer protection bureau.

In December, Meta’s targeted advertising plans were accepted but with a warning on adhering to privacy standards by the EDPB, a body that ensures GDPR compliance.

Expanding restrictions on Meta’s use of facial recognition technology, the Federal Trade Commission has insisted that Meta must seek consent to collect personal data from user verification.