Twitter Slamed $150m Fine For Using Users’ Data For Advertising

Twitter has been fined $150 million by US authorities after collecting users’ email addresses and phone numbers for security purposes and using the data to target them with adverts.

According to a settlement reached with the US Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, Twitter had informed users that the information would be used for account security.

“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 a court complaint filed by the DoJ.

According to court documents, the offences took place between May 2013-September 2019, with the information being used for purposes such as two-factor authentication.

But the social media network would then use this data to allow advertisers to target specific groups of Twitter users, by matching the telephone numbers and email addresses to the advertisers’ own lists of telephone numbers and email addresses.

Twitter must improve its compliance processes as part of the agreement, in addition to the financial settlement. The complaint claimed that the misrepresentations infringed the FTC Act, and a 2011 settlement reached by the agency.

Twitter’s chief privacy officer, Damien Kieran, said in a statement that the company had “cooperated with the FTC every step of the way”.

“In reaching this settlement, we have paid a $150m penalty, and 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,” he added.

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