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Twitter pays $150m to make allegations of privacy failures go away

Twitter
Twitter (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Twitter has agreed to pay $150 million over accusations it misused private data.
  • Users were asked for their email address and phone number to help Twitter secure their accounts.
  • It's said Twitter then used that information to help it run targeted ads against those users.

Twitter has agreed to hand over $150 million as part of a settlement relating to accusations that the social media outfit misused private data it collected from users.

The FTC and Department of Justice say that Twitter asked users for information that was supposed to be used to secure their accounts. However, TechCrunch reports that Twitter instead used that information to target ads.

Twitter asked users to hand over email addresses and phone numbers in order to secure their accounts, but that information was then used for other things — specifically, ad targeting.

"Specifically, while Twitter represented to users that it collected their telephone numbers and email addresses to secure their accounts, Twitter failed to disclose that it also used user contact information to aid advertisers in reaching their preferred audiences," the complaint, which was filed by the DOJ on behalf of the FTC, said.

The FTC says that more than 140 million Twitter users were affected by the move, all while Twitter was able to use their information to profit. As part of the settlement, TechCrunch also reports that Twitter must "improve its compliance practices," although it isn't immediately clear what that will entail or how Twitter intends on doing so.

Twitter is in the middle of a hostile takeover by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and likely has plenty to keep its lawyers occupied for some time.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.