Twitter let advertisers use private data without users' knowledge, says the Federal Trade Commission.
Social media has been under heavy scrutiny for a while now. The criticism as come from all sides. Facebook was forced to update its hate speech policy after uproar over its allowance of Holocaust denial. Facebook and Twitter banned Trump from their services after public outcry, only to have Trump himself file a class action lawsuit against both platforms.
Now, Twitter has found itself in hot water yet again. The Federal Trade Commission fined the company $150 million after claiming that the platform let advertisers obtain users' private data in order to more precisely target them. All of this is done, the FTC says, without informing users.
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The agency alleged that Twitter disobeyed a rule the FTC established in 2011 which "explicitly prohibited" the social network from misleading users about its privacy practices. The agency also said that beyond the $150 million fine, Twitter must also stop "profiting from its deceptively collected data." The fine doesn't come out of nowhere; Twitter has expected the fine since 2020.
"Keeping data secure and respecting privacy is something we take extremely seriously, and we have cooperated with the FTC every step of the way," said Twitter chief privacy officer Damien Kieran after the decision. "In reaching this settlement, we have paid a $150M USD penalty, and we have aligned with the agency on operational updates and program enhancements to ensure that people’s personal data remains secure and their privacy protected."
Twitter has been in the throes of upheaval for a while now, upheaval which escalated drastically when Elon Musk announced he'd be acquiring the company. It now seems, however, that the deal is on hold.