Twitter was fined $150 million for utilizing users’ data for advertising without their consent. Twitter, which is being bought by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has agreed to pay the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) $150 million to settle charges that it exploited non-public information obtained for security purposes to target adverts.
The corporation has been barred from benefitting from the falsely gathered data and has been compelled to notify all impacted users, in addition to the monetary penalty for “misrepresenting its privacy and security procedures.”
In a statement, FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said, “Twitter collected data from users under the guise of utilizing it for security purposes, but subsequently ended up using the data to target users with ads.” “This behavior has an impact on over 140 million Twitter users while also enhancing Twitter’s principal source of revenue.”
According to a complaint filed by the US Justice Department, Twitter began requiring users to supply either a phone number or an email address in May 2013 in order to increase account security.
The goal was to ostensibly assist users in regaining access to their locked accounts while also enabling two-factor authentication by sending a one-time password to the registered phone number or email address after checking in with a username and password.
However, Twitter failed to disclose that it also permitted marketers to utilize this information to target individual adverts by matching them with email addresses and phone numbers gathered from other third-party sources such as data brokers.
The social media platform stated that the issue has been resolved as of September 17, 2019, and that it would continue to invest in “operational updates and program enhancements to ensure that people’s personal data stays secure and their privacy is protected.”
“Consumers who disclose private information have a right to know if that information is being used to assist advertisers target customers,” said United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds for the Northern District of California. “Social media businesses who are not upfront with their customers about how their personal information is being utilized will face consequences.”
This is the second time Twitter has reached an agreement with the US Consumer Protection Commission. In March 2011, it acknowledged to claims that it “deceived users and jeopardized their privacy by neglecting to secure their personal information,” allowing hackers to seize administrative control of the platform twice in 2009.
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