Twitter has agreed to pay $150 million to the Federal Trade Commission for what its chief privacy officer Damien Kieran referred to as “a privateness incident” when e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers customers offered for account safety functions “could have been inadvertently used for promoting.”

The settlement adopted an authorities grievance towards the corporate filed at this time in U.S. District Court within the Northern District of California for misrepresenting its use of shopper information “from at the least May of 2013 via at the least September of 2019.”

“Specifically, whereas Twitter represented to customers that it collected their phone numbers and e-mail addresses to safe their accounts, Twitter did not disclose that it additionally used person contact info to help advertisers in reaching their most well-liked audiences,” violating FTC guidelines. It mentioned greater than 140 million Twitter customers offered e-mail addresses or cellphone numbers “based mostly on Twitter’s misleading statements that their info could be used to particular functions associated to account safety.”

“As the grievance notes, Twitter obtained information from customers on the pretext of harnessing it for safety functions however then ended up additionally utilizing the information to focus on customers with advertisements,” mentioned FTC Chair Lina Khan. She is famous that promoting Twitter’s main income.

“The Department of Justice is dedicated to defending the privateness of shoppers’ delicate information,” added Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “The $150 million penalty displays the seriousness of the allegations towards Twitter, and the substantial new compliance measures to be imposed on account of at this time’s proposed settlement will assist stop additional deceptive techniques that threaten customers’ privateness.”

Twitter’s Kieran mentioned in a weblog submission that the problem “was addressed as of September 17, 2019, and at this time we wish to reiterate the work we’ll proceed to do to guard the privateness and safety of the individuals who use Twitter. Keeping information safe and respecting privateness is one thing we take extraordinarily critically.”

The settlement contains operational updates and program enhancements to “make sure that individuals’ private information stays safe and their privateness protected.”

It’s the newest headache for the social media firm that’s in the midst of a weird takeover dance with billionaire Tesla founder Elon Musk. The two sides agreed to a sale in late April however Musk seems to be strolling it again, saying final week it was “on maintain” till he obtained information relating to pretend accounts.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal declined to debate the standing of the deal on the annual shareholder’s assembly early day, citing regulatory constraints.

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