According to court documents filed on Wednesday, May 25, social networking giant Twitter has agreed to pay a USD 150 million fine after being accused of illegally selling private information, such as phone numbers, to target advertising despite claiming users the information would be used for security reasons. It read that between May 2013 and September 2019, Twitter was accused of misleading its users about the “security and privacy” of their data.
As per reports, officials from the United States have pointed out that around $3 billion of Twitter’s $3.4 billion in earnings in 2019 came from advertising.
As part of the settlement announced by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, the company will pay $150 million. In addition to the monetary settlement, Twitter will be banned from “profiting from its deceptively collected data,” the FTC said. Additionally, the social media giant has been asked to strengthen its compliance practices under the terms of the agreement.
Twitter chief privacy officer Damien Kieran took to Twitter to share a blog post wherein he wrote how “Twitter reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding a privacy incident disclosed in 2019 when some email addresses and phone numbers provided for account security purposes may have been inadvertently used for advertising. the FTC settlement.”
“@Twitter, keeping data secure and respecting privacy is something we take extremely seriously. Today we shared an update on our settlement with the FTC regarding a privacy incident disclosed in 2019,” Tweeted Damien Kieran
“Our settlement with the @FTC reflects Twitter’s pre-existing commitments and investments in security and privacy. We will continue to partner with our regulators to make sure they understand how security and privacy practices at Twitter are always evolving for the better,” added the microblogging site Twitter’s chief privacy officer.
2/2 Our settlement with the @FTC reflects Twitter’s pre-existing commitments and investments in security and privacy. We will continue to partner with our regulators to make sure they understand how security and privacy practices at Twitter are always evolving for the better.— Damien (@Damokieran) May 25, 2022
It may be noted that the complaint against the social media giant had said that the misrepresentations violated the FTC Act and a 2011 settlement with the agency. “Specifically, while Twitter represented to users that it collected their telephone numbers and email addresses to secure their accounts, Twitter failed to disclose that it also used user contact information to aid advertisers in reaching their preferred audiences,” the complaint said.
The fine comes as Twitter is undergoing a USD 44 billion buyout attempt from billionaire Elon Musk.
It may be recalled that in 2018, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) imposed a penalty of 10 million euros ($11.4 million) on Facebook for illegally harvesting the data of its users for commercial purposes. Besides imposing a fine, AGCM had also asked Facebook to run an apology on its website and app.
Facebook had faced allegations of misleading people by not informing them when they sign up that their personal data will be used by it for commercial purposes. The Authority also observed that Facebook does not reveal to its users that their personal data will be used by it for its own benefits and instead stresses on Facebook is free. However, Facebook had denied the allegations of selling user data to any third parties.