Twitter agrees to $150 million fine over US data privacy complaint

Twitter agreed to a settlement including a $150 million civil penalty with the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

In a complaint filed Thursday, the US government alleged that the social media giant used private information for targeted ads, according to a statement on Thursday

The settlement is still subject to approval from the federal court. Per the agreement, Twitter would also have to implement “robust compliance measures to protect users’ data privacy.”

“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.

The complaint specifically alleges that between May 2013 and September 2019, Twitter deceived users as to what the company did with their private information and how it protected it.

Twitter collected phone numbers and email addresses supposedly for “account-security purposes,” but failed to disclose that it would also use that same information for target ads from other companies, per the document.

According to the complaint, this affected 140 million Twitter users and the company violated the FTC Act and an administrative order issued by the FTC in March 2011.

“Keeping data secure and respecting privacy is something we take extremely seriously, and we have cooperated with the FTC every step of the way,” Twitter said in a statement Wednesday. “In reaching this settlement, we have paid a $150M USD 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.”

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