Twitter agreed to pay $150 million in fines after the US government sued the social media company on Wednesday, claiming it misled consumers about how it protects their personal data. According to the federal lawsuit, Twitter failed to inform its users for years that it used their contact information to help marketers target their advertising, violating a 2011 privacy agreement with the Federal Trade Commission.
“This practice has affected more than 140 million Twitter users, while increasing Twitter’s main source of revenue.“, said FTC Chair Lina Khan in a statement. Twitter said on Wednesday that the use of personal information for ads was “inadvertent” and that the incident was first reported in 2019.
Damien Kieran, director of privacy at Twitter, wrote in a blog post:
“This issue was addressed 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. Keeping data secure and respecting privacy is something we take very seriously, and we cooperate with the FTC every step of the way. Upon reaching this agreement, we paid a fine of $150 million and aligned with the agency on program updates and enhancements to ensure that people’s personal data remains secure and their privacy protected.”
Wednesday’s lawsuit, filed by the FTC and the Department of Justice in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, marks the latest headache for Twitter amid a tumultuous takeover of billionaire Elon Musk and a personnel change in the company that led to several departures of senior employees.
In its alleged misconduct, Twitter only told users that their phone numbers and email addresses were being used for account security purposes, but made no mention of advertising, according to a copy of the complaint seen by the site. international CNN. According to the complaint:
“From at least May 2013 through 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 non-public contact information,” the complaint reads. The complaint also alleges that Twitter’s conduct violates the terms of a 2011 settlement stemming from two hacking incidents that resulted in attackers gaining administrative privileges on the platform. Under the agreement, Twitter was barred from misleading the public about how it protects consumer data. Violations of the agreement can lead to fines. “Twitter’s false statements violate the FTC Act and the 2011 Order, which specifically prohibits the company from making false statements about the security of non-public consumer information.”
In addition to the $150 million fine, the proposed new settlement between Twitter and the FTC to resolve Wednesday’s allegations also prevents the company from profiting from what the FTC described as “deceptively collected data” and allowing authentication methods. of users other than phone numbers. , such as multi-factor authentication applications. The company will also be required to inform users of its failure to disclose its alleged practice of using contact information for advertising purposes. Wednesday’s settlement still needs court approval.
This article is a translation of the writing by Brian Fung to the CNN Business.
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