Twitter is facing scrutiny after allegedly failing to protect the privacy of users over a six-year span.
According to the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, the social media platform is ordered to pay a $150 million penalty. The regulators say Twitter violated a 2011 FTC order by deceiving users about how it maintained and protected the privacy and security of their nonpublic information. However, FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan said Twitter failed to disclose it would use the information to help companies send targeted advertisements to users, allowing the company to illegally profit from the practice.
“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…this practice affected more than 140 million Twitter users while boosting Twitter’s primary source of revenue.”
The settlement requires the San Francisco based company to adopt new safeguards that must be approved by a federal court in California. It has to implement significant new compliance measures to ensure Twitter improves its data privacy practice through a comprehensive privacy and information security program.
It will also be required to obtain regular assessments of its data privacy program, provide annual reports after data privacy incidents affecting 250 or more users and comply with several reporting and record-keeping requirements.
In a statement, the company said they will “continue to make investments in this work, including building and evolving processes, implementing technical measures, and conducting regular auditing and reporting to ensure we are mitigating risk at every level and function at Twitter.”
This comes after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced he is stepping down from the board as billionaire Elon Musk is set to takeover. He has recently agreed with Musk’s stance that he does not support permanent bans on the social media platform, noting that President Trump’s ban “shouldn’t have been a business decision.”