Why has Twitter been fined $150m? - Fix Bdsthanhhoavn

Why has Twitter been fined $150m?

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has fined social media platform Twitter $150 million over claims it misused user data.

According to the authorities, the company illegally used personal data to sell targeted ads over a six-year period. While Twitter gathers some personal information, like phone numbers and email addresses, for security reasons, a 2011 agreement forbade it from using it for commercial purposes.

Starting in 2013, Twitter began using two-factor authentication, which requires either a phone number or email address.

US federal prosecutors said that 140 million of Twitter’s approximately 290 million users provided information as part of the new policy.

However, up until September 2019, Twitter allowed advertisers to access that information. The company failed to notify users of this arrangement.

In turn, advertisers combined the security information with data they already had or obtained to target ads at Twitter’s users.

Twitter has not just been hit by a $150m fine. It will also be subject to a number of restrictions, including being prohibited from profiting from deceptively collected data.

Users will also be allowed to use multi-factor authentication methods other than a phone number or email address, such as mobile authentication apps or security keys.

The company will also have to notify users that it misused phone numbers and email addresses collected for security to target ads to them.

“The $150 million penalty reflects the seriousness of the allegations against Twitter, and the substantial new compliance measures to be imposed as a result of today’s proposed settlement will help prevent further misleading tactics that threaten users’ privacy,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.

In addition to breaching the 2011 US agreement, Twitter’s practice of using security information for advertising also violates data protection and sharing agreements between the US and Europe.

Privacy Shield, the agreement under which data can be transferred between the EU and US while maintaining GDPR protections, requires participating companies to follow certain privacy principles.

As such, by failing to disclose how their data was being used, Twitter violated the agreement.

“Consumers who share their private information have a right to know if that information is being used to help advertisers target customers,” said Stephanie Hinds, an Attorney for the Northern District of California.

“Social media companies that are not honest with consumers about how their personal information is being used will be held accountable.”


Twitter has claimed that the data was used for advertising purposes “inadvertently”.

“Keeping data secure and respecting privacy is something we take extremely seriously, and we have cooperated with the FTC every step of the way,” a company statement from Chief Privacy Officer Damien Kieran reads.

“We have aligned with the agency on operational updates and program enhancements to ensure that people’s personal data remains secure, and their privacy protected.”

Back in 2019 and the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook was hit by a similar FTC fine over claims it deceived users about how it was using their data.

The company was hit by a $5 billion fine, the largest penalty ever imposed on a company for violating consumer privacy.

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