Twitter agrees to pay $150m fine over alleged privacy violations

Global social media company Twitter agreed to pay a $150 million fine over the alleged misuse of personal data over six years in order to help sale of targeted advertisements.

“From at least May 2013 until at least September 2019, Twitter misrepresented to users of its online communication service the extent to which it maintained and protected the security and privacy of their nonpublic contact information,” said a complaint filed on Wednesday.

“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,” said the filing in the US District Court Northern District of California.

In a statement on Wednesday, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said that Twitter “deceptively” used account security data for targeted advertising, and then profited “by allowing advertisers to use this data to target specific users.”

Lina M. Khan, the FTC chair, said this practice affected more than 140 million Twitter users, while boosting Twitter’s primary source of revenue.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said the substantial new compliance measures to be imposed will help prevent further “misleading tactics” that threaten users’ privacy.

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