The Twitter platform has provided advertisers with some user information that should have been used to bolster the security of the account and has agreed to pay $ 150 million to settle the complaint, U.S. authorities said Wednesday.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have accused Twitter of taking phone numbers or email addresses to tighten privacy and then allowing advertisers to use the details to monetize.
Commission chairperson Lina Khan said in a statement that “Twitter received data from users on the pretext of using it for security purposes but then ended up using the data to target users with ads.”
The personal information that users transfer to technology companies and how that data is used is a front for recurring conflicts between regulatory and powerful entities such as Facebook’s core meta, Twitter and others.
Conflicts over privacy have led to periodic lawsuits or resolutions, but critics have long called for a comprehensive update of U.S. national regulations on how human data is handled online.
Over the five-year period ending in 2019, more than 140 million Twitter users have provided phone numbers or email addresses to San Francisco-based services to help secure accounts with two-factor authentication, regulators say.
Security strategies involve increasing passwords, including one-time codes sent via text or email messages.
Without letting users know, Twitter allows advertisers to target ads using personal information, the FTC said, which has worked with federal prosecutors to sue the technology company.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds said in a release that “consumers who share their personal information have a right to know whether that information is being used to help advertisers target their customers.”
In addition to agreeing to pay $ 150 million, Twitter will implement new measures, including a regular evaluation of its privacy program by an independent evaluator, as indicated in the settlement agreement.
“Protecting data and respecting privacy is something we take very seriously, and we’ve cooperated with the FTC on every step,” Twitter’s Chief Privacy Officer Damien Kieran said in a blog post.
“We have lined up with the agency on operational updates and program enhancements to ensure that people’s personal data is protected and their privacy is protected,” he added, noting that fines have already been paid.
The decision, which must be approved by a judge, also requires Twitter to notify everyone who joins Twitter before the end of 2019 about the agreement and options to protect their privacy.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)