Twitter will pay a $150 million fine and introduce new safeguards to address allegations by federal regulators that the social platform failed to protect user data privacy for six years.
The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission announced the settlement via Twitter on Wednesday. Regulators have accused Twitter of violating a 2011 FTC order by deceiving users about how it maintains and protects the privacy and security of its non-public contact information.
From May 2013 to September 2019, Twitter told users it collected their phone numbers and email addresses to keep accounts safe. But the government said it did not disclose that it would also use the information to enable companies to send targeted online advertisements to users on the platform.
The regulator also said in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday that Twitter falsely claimed that it complied with a US privacy agreement with the European Union and Switzerland that prohibits the company from handling user information in ways inconsistent with the purposes for which users were authorised.
The $150 million fine and required new compliance measures set out in the settlement must be approved by the federal court in California. The FTC’s 2011 order charged Twitter with a critical breach in its data security that allowed hackers to gain unauthorised administrative control over Twitter, including access to non-public user information.