Twitter will pay a $150 million fine and introduce new safeguards to settle federal regulators’ allegations that the social media company gave advertisers inappropriate access to users’ personal information.
The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission announced the settlement with Twitter on Wednesday.
From May 2013 to September 2019, the agencies said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Twitter told users it collected their phone numbers and email addresses for account security purposes. But the company did not disclose that it would also use the information to enable companies to send targeted online advertisements to users, the agencies said.
The DOJ and FTC also alleged in the complaint that Twitter falsely asserted that it abided by the United States’ privacy agreements with the European Union and Switzerland, which prohibit the companies from processing user information in any way. contrary to the purposes authorized by the users.
Regulators say settlement will resolve allegations that Twitter violated the FTC Act and a 2011 FTC order by misleading users about how it maintained and protected the privacy and security of their nonpublic contact information .
The $150 million penalty and new compliance measures required under the settlement must be approved by a federal court in California.
News of the settlement comes as Twitter is deeply upset over a $44 billion takeover plan by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
In April, Musk reached an agreement to buy Twitter at $54.20 per share. But Tesla’s CEO said weeks later the deal couldn’t move forward until the platform proved less than 5% of its users were fake or spam accounts.
Twitter executives have since said they intend to move forward with the deal. If Musks walks away, he could be liable for $1 billion in severance pay.