Twitter will pay $150 million to settle a privacy lawsuit with the department of justice and the federal trade commission. The settlement declared today covers a complaint that Twitter deceptively used members’ email addresses and phone numbers for targeted advertising. On top of the fine Company must also accept audits of its data privacy program among other restrictions. The legal filing claims that Twitter distorted its policies to users between 2013 and 2019 violating both the FTC act and order from a previous settlement in 2011. The agency expects users to add a phone number or email address to allow security measures like two-factor validation. In reality, however, Twitter also integrated that information into its ad-targeting data. It apologized for the practice in 2019 saying it had inadvertently funneled the addresses and numbers into its ads system. The complaint also alleges that during that period Twitter was falsely claiming to comply with the European Union US and Swiss-US privacy shield frameworks which restricted how agencies could repurpose user data. The $150 million penalties reflect the seriousness of the allegations against the company and considerable latest obedience measures to be obligatory as a result of today’s proposed settlement will help prevent further disingenuous tactics that threaten users’ privacy. The FTC took aim at Facebook for a similar practice in 2019 fining the agency $5 billion for that and other privacy violations. The latest compliance measures will require Twitter to uphold a comprehensive privacy and information security program and it must conduct customary tests and audits of its safeguards. It must also notify anyone who joined Twitter before September 2019 of the settlement after a federal court approves it.
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