Twitter has been fined $150 million for illegally using security data

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Twitter has been fined $150 million for illegally using security data
Twitter has been fined $150 million for illegally using security data

Twitter was fined $150 million after federal officials determined that the social media company violated a 2011 agreement not to use personal information to target advertisements.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice, Twitter illegally used personal phone numbers and email addresses to allow advertisers to limit the reach of advertiser campaigns for six years, despite promising regulators it would not.

The service collects personal data such as phone numbers and email addresses to authenticate users, but the church-state separation of core activities and commercial operations was not followed, and such data was improperly used until September 2019.

“As the complaint notes, Twitter obtained data from users under the guise of harnessing it for security purposes, but then ended up also using the data to target users with ads,” said FTC chair Lina Khan.

Prosecutors claim that over 140 million Twitter users unknowingly provided personal information by putting their trust in Twitter’s internal systems and controls.

Twitter is fully cooperating with the FTC on the matter, with chief privacy officer Damien Kieran admitting in a blog post that user data “may have been inadvertently used for advertising,” but promising that such practices will not be used in the future.

Rather than taking Kieran’s word for it, the FTC agreement will see regulators and an independent monitor installed to ensure compliance with advertising practices for the next two decades.

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Twitter is not the only social media company that has been exposed in this manner, with Facebook facing criticism for its use of multi-factor authentication data. Not to mention its massive $5 billion 2019 fine related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The public slap coincides with Elon Musk’s high-profile $44 billion takeover of Twitter – a deal that is now in jeopardy due to an audit of bot accounts.

North America, Personal Data, Audience Targeting, Social Media, FTC, Twitter, Digital Transformation are all topics covered in this article.