Twitter paid a 150 million dollars Fined the FTC for their “deceptive” use of user data for targeted advertising. The fine follows the company’s admission in 2019 that for years it had used Twitter users’ phone numbers and email addresses provided for two-factor authentication to also serve targeted ads.
The company said its use of the phone numbers was for ads “a mistake,” and that it was not certain how many users were affected. In a statement, FTC Chair Lina Khan said more than 140 million users were affected by the practice, which lasted between 2014 and 2019. It also violates an earlier 2011 agreement between Twitter and the FTC that “prohibits the company from misrepresenting its privacy and security practices.”
In a statementDamien Kieran, Twitter’s chief privacy officer, said the company “has worked with the FTC every step of the way.”
“This issue was fixed on September 17, 2019, and today we want to reiterate the work we will continue to do to protect the privacy and security of people who use Twitter,” Kieran wrote. “By reaching this settlement, we have paid a $150 million penalty and coordinated with the agency on operational updates and program improvements to ensure people’s personal information remains secure and their privacy protected.”
In addition to the fine, the FTC order requires Twitter to notify all users whose phone number and email addresses were originally collected for “account security” and were also used for ads. Also, Twitter needs to make two-factor authentication available through methods other than phone numbers, which the company introduced in 2019. Twitter will also create a new “comprehensive privacy and information security program” to screen new products for potential privacy and security risks.
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