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Twitter sued $150m for selling data of US users

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Twitter must pay a $150 million (£119 million) punishment in the United States after law enforcement officials accused it of illegally utilizing user data to help sell targeted advertisements.

According to court records, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice allege that Twitter broke an agreement with regulators.

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Twitter has pledged not to provide advertisers with personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses.

According to federal authorities, the social media business violated these laws.

In December 2020, Twitter was fined £400,000 for violating Europe’s GDPR data privacy regulations.

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The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government whose objective is to enforce antitrust law and promote consumer protection.

It alleges that Twitter violated a 2011 FTC decision prohibiting the firm from misrepresenting its privacy and security procedures.

Twitter gets the majority of its revenue from advertising on its platform, which lets consumers, celebrities, and businesses broadcast 280-character messages, or tweets.

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According to a complaint filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, Twitter began requesting phone numbers or email addresses from users in 2013 in an effort to increase account security.

“As the complaint explains, Twitter got user data under the guise of utilizing it for security purposes, but ended up also using it to target users with advertisements,” said FTC chairwoman Lina Khan.

This behavior affected over 140 million Twitter users and increased Twitter’s principal income stream.

Authentication breach
The managing director of computer security firm Secure Team, Ian Reynolds, told the BBC, “Once again, Twitter is abusing the trust of its customers by utilizing their private information for its own benefit and to increase its income.”

He said, “Twitter misled their consumers into a false feeling of security by gathering their data under the guise of security and account protection, but ultimately used the data to target their users with advertisements.

This fact demonstrates that firms continue to have influence over your data and that there is still a long way to go before users can feel confident that they have complete control over their digital footprint.

Twitter needs individuals to submit a phone number and email address in order to authenticate an account.

This data also allows users to reset their passwords and unlock their accounts, if necessary, and enables two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication adds an additional layer of protection to Twitter logins by delivering a code to a phone number or email address in addition to a username and password.

According to the FTC, Twitter used this information to grow its advertising business until at least September 2019.

It is accused of providing access to users’ security information to advertising.

In addition to the monetary penalty, Twitter must:

  1. Stop utilizing the phone numbers and email addresses it illegally obtained Notify users of its inappropriate use of security information Inform users of the FTC’s legal action Describe how to disable personalized advertisements and review multi-factor authentication settings
  2. Provide solutions for multifactor authentication that do not require a phone number.
  3. Implement an upgraded privacy and security procedure that involves reporting events within 30 days to the FTC

“The Department of Justice is dedicated to preserving the privacy of sensitive consumer data,” said Vanita Gupta, the associate attorney general of the United States.

“The $150 million fine reflects the gravity of the claims against Twitter, and the extensive additional compliance measures that will be imposed as part of the proposed settlement will help prevent similar deceptive techniques that endanger the privacy of users.”

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