Twitter Faces $250 million FTC Fine For Using Emails In Targeted Advertising

Photo by MORAN on Unsplash

Twitter is expected to receive an FTC fine of $250 million for using emails and phone numbers in its targeted advertising that customers provided for security verification.

The takeaways:
  • The potential fines relate to Twitter’s 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the platform’s misuse of customer data. The FTC in a draft complaint on July 28th claimed that Twitter had violated the terms of the agreement.
  • Twitter labeled its actions an “error” saying it had inadvertently used the personal data in targeted ads.
  • The FTC fine can range anywhere from $150 million to $250 million although no fixed timeline has been set for a final decision. In its quarterly report, Twitter stated they would be setting aside $150 million for the fine at the current time.

Not the first time: Between January and May 2009, hackers were able to breach Twitter’s security on two separate occasions. Twitter later reached a settlement with the FTC in 2011 for the breaches. The FTC at the time stated that:

  • “Twitter will be barred for 20 years from misleading consumers about the extent to which it protects the security, privacy, and confidentiality of nonpublic consumer information, including the measures it takes to prevent unauthorized access to nonpublic information and honor the privacy choices made by consumers.”

The reactions: Twitter’s stock dropped about 1% on Monday in after-hours trading after the announcement. In a filing, the company also indicated the breach could harm its ability to attract users and advertisers.

Twitter’s unwanted hackathon: On July 31st, Twitter succumbed to yet another security breach. The hack targeted several celebrity accounts including those of Elon Musk and Barack Obama. A 17-year old Tampa native is believed to be behind the scam which was set up for users to transfer Bitcoin to the teen’s account.

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