Twitter was slapped with a hefty fine after settling a federal lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission Wednesday.
The company will have to pay $150 million for deceiving users about the use of their data, the Washington Examiner reported.
Twitter slapped with $150 million fine
The FTC alleges that Twitter collected e-mail addresses and phone numbers from users claiming that the information was needed to secure their accounts.
But Twitter also used the data that was gathered between 2013 and 2019 for targeted advertising, although it didn’t share this with users. Advertising is Twitter’s top revenue source.
“As the complaint notes, Twitter obtained data from users on the pretext of harnessing it for security purposes but then ended up also using the data to target users with ads,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said.
“This practice affected more than 140 million Twitter users, while boosting Twitter’s primary source of revenue.”
The $150 million fine equals 3 percent of Twitter’s 2021 revenue, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Twitter in limbo
Twitter also agreed to more rigorous federal oversight as part of the deal with the Biden administration, according to the Journal, which noted the investigation started during the Trump administration.
Twitter’s Chief Privacy Officer Damien Kieran acknowledged that data “may have been inadvertently used for advertising” but pledged that the company will do more to protect the privacy of users.
Twitter has also faced complaints from billionaire Elon Musk of hiding the true number of bots that populate its website as he negotiates a deal to purchase the company. Musk has proposed paying less than his initial $44 billion bid depending on how many fake accounts are on the site.
Musk also wants to make public the shadowy algorithms that Twitter uses to censor content. Musk’s plans to restore free speech to Twitter have rattled many on the left and in the establishment media.
In another shakeup, Twitter’s co-founder and longtime former CEO Jack Dorsey left the company’s board Wednesday.