Twitter Settles on $150M Penalty Over Alleged Privacy Violations

Twitter on Wednesday came to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, agreeing to pay $150 million in civil fines and implement privacy protection measures. 

The settlement will resolve 2011 Federal Trade Commission allegations that the social media platform misrepresented how it would use users’ private contact information, according to a Justice Department press release. 

“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the privacy of consumers’ sensitive data,” Associate attorney General Vanita Gupta said. “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.” 

Indeed, as reported by Just the News, a complaint from a U.S. district court in California alleges that from 2013 to 2019, Twitter gave users’ phone numbers and email addresses to companies to use in targeted advertisements while telling users that the information would be used for security purposes. 

The filing also accused Twitter of falsely claiming to comply with European Union-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks.

“Consumers who share their private information have a right to know if that information is being used to help advertisers target customers,” California District Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds said. “Social media companies that are not honest with consumers about how their personal information is being used will be held accountable.”

Twitter agreed to the settlement, which still needs approval from a federal court.