Twitter will pay a $150 million fine for violating user data privacy

To resolve federal regulators’ charges that Twitter failed to secure the privacy of users’ data during a six-year period, the social media company will pay a $150 million penalty and implement new protections.

The settlement with Twitter was announced on Wednesday by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. Twitter allegedly broke a 2011 FTC ruling by misleading users about how well it maintained and protected the privacy and security of their nonpublic contact information, according to the authorities.

Twitter failed to secure privacy

From May 2013 to September 2019, Twitter informed users that their phone numbers and email addresses were being collected for account security purposes. However, the government claims that it failed to disclose that it would also utilize the information to enable corporations to send targeted web adverts to platform users.

In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, the regulators also said that Twitter falsely claimed to comply with US privacy accords with the European Union and Switzerland, which prevent corporations from processing user data for reasons other than those permitted by users. 

In a statement, FTC Chair Lina Khan said, “Twitter gathered data from users under the guise of utilising it for security purposes, but ultimately ended up using the data to target users with adverts.” “This behaviour impacted over 140 million Twitter users while also increasing Twitter’s principal revenue stream.”

The San Francisco-based corporation boasts a global user base of more than 229 million people.

A federal court in California must approve the $150 million penalty and the mandated additional compliance procedures as part of the deal.

According to the FTC’s 2011 decision, Twitter’s data security had major flaws that allowed hackers to take unlawful administrative control of Twitter, including access to nonpublic user information.

In a blog post published Wednesday, Twitter’s chief privacy officer, Damien Kieran, wrote, “Keeping data secure and respecting privacy is something we take incredibly seriously, and we have worked with the FTC every step of the way.” According to him, the company has updated operations and made other modifications in accordance with the FTC “to ensure that people’s personal data stays secure and their privacy is protected.”

In November, Twitter announced the establishment of a new data governance committee within the firm.

The settlement was announced on the same day as Twitter’s annual shareholder meeting. For weeks, the controversy surrounding Tesla entrepreneur Elon Musk’s proposed $44 billion purchase of Twitter has engulfed the firm. Mr. Musk, who is one of Twitter’s top owners, amended his proposed takeover funding strategy on Wednesday, giving investors hope that the acquisition may still go through.

Because of its open nature, simple interface, and in-the-moment immediacy, Twitter has an unequaled influence on news, politics, and culture. Some experts are concerned that Mr. Musk may loosen content-moderation regulations that protect people from white supremacy, hate speech, and threats of violence. Following the assault on the US Capitol in January 2021, the network famously banned former President Donald Trump.

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