The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put Twitter under scanner from October last year over personal data usage such as phone numbers and email addresses for ad targeting. This big revelation was made by none other than the social media giant during a regulatory filing with the Security and Exchange Commission.
According to the document, the social networking firm received a complaint from the FTC on July 28, who claimed that it is conducting investigations regarding Twitter’s “use of phone number and email address data provided for safety and security purposes for targeted advertising during periods between 2013 and 2019.” Post these investigations, a fine ranging between $150 million and $250 million could be slapped on social networking.
Twitter had released a blog post in 2019. It stated that it might have “inadvertently” targeted advertisements by using phone numbers and email ids of users that are usually provided for two-factor authentication purposes. These details are required so that users can ensure their account is secure. At that time, the organization admitted that this was an error on their part and apologized via the blog post. As per sources company further stated that it was unsure how many people were affected on account of these circumstances. “As of September 17, we have addressed the issue that allowed this to occur and are no longer using phone numbers or email addresses collected for safety or security purposes for advertising”, it wrote.
In its draft complaint, the FTC had stated that Twitter had violated the 2011 agreement, which it had signed with the Commission. According to the Financial Times, the agreement dissuades the organization for deceiving “consumers about the extent to which it protects the security, privacy, and confidentiality” of their personal information. At the same time, the organization was also found to pressurize people to “establish and maintain a comprehensive information security program.”
The company has already kept the amount of $150 million separately so that it can at least pay up the minimum fine amount that might be coming in its way. For now, it does seem like Twitter is preparing itself for the worst possible scenario. It is not the first organization that has come under the FTC scanner. Previously, Facebook was made to shell out $5 billion on account of security trespassing. At that time, the social media giant had used people’s phone numbers for its ads business. These phone numbers were taken from the people to secure their accounts.
The complaint against Twitter follows closely very shortly after it released its latest earnings report. The report depicted that the organization had a revenue of about $683 million during the second quarter of 2020. About a fortnight ago, there was also a “massive hack” on the Twitter platform. This event led to the Twitter accounts of many high-profile personalities, including those of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos, getting compromised. So far, the FTC has not commented on anything about any of the above.