Twitter fined for selling user data
Twitter fined for selling user data


Twitter has agreed to pay a $150 million fine after federal law enforcement officials accused the social media company of illegally using people's personal information to deliver targeted advertising over a six-year sale period.

In court filings, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice said Twitter violated a 2011 agreement with regulators that pledged not to use information collected for security purposes, such as users' phone numbers and email addresses, to help advertisers target people with ads.

Federal investigators say Twitter has failed to deliver on that promise. "As the complaint makes clear, the company obtained user data under the guise that it was for security purposes," FTC Chair Lina Khan said. But I also use it to target ad users.

The company requires users to provide phone numbers and email addresses in order to verify accounts. This information can also help users reset their passwords and unlock their accounts when companies block logins due to suspicious activity.

But until at least September 2019, the company also used the information to boost its ad campaigns by giving advertisers access to users' phone numbers and email addresses. This violates the company's agreement with the regulator.

According to federal prosecutors, more than 140 million users of the platform provided such personal information based on false claims on Twitter.

"Consumers who share information have a right to know if that information is being used to help advertisers target customers," said US attorney Stephanie Hinds.

Dangerous times on Twitter

Damien Keran, the company's chief privacy officer, acknowledged that users' personal information could be used unintentionally for advertising purposes. He said the company no longer sells information collected for security purposes to advertisers.

Kiran writes: We take data security and respect for privacy very seriously. We work with the Federal Trade Commission every step of the way.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, the Company has agreed to no longer use the information it has collected for security purposes. The settlement has not yet been approved by the court. The regulations also restrict employees' access to users' personal data.

The action reflects a sweeping settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that included a $5 billion fine against Facebook in 2019, under which the social media giant pledged to stop sharing information it received that it no longer shares with advertisers.

Under the terms of the FTC's agreement with Twitter, the company's advertising activities will be monitored by regulators for up to 20 years.

Tesla has been in a slump since CEO Elon Musk bought the social networking site for $44 billion last month.

Musk recently announced that the deal was on hold, arguing that he must first determine the prevalence of bot accounts on the site. However, merger experts note that the deal is still in the works because Musk has a legally binding contract with the company, which is subject to scrutiny by regulators and shareholders.


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