Twitter in hot water for alleged misuse of personal phone numbers

Twitter confirms receiving a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission due to the use of its users’ personal information for targeted ads.

Because of this, Twitter could reportedly be fined for up to $250 million, and the announcement was followed by a 1% drop in their stock, according to a report by CNBC.

Alleged misuse of data

The FTC complaint was delivered on July 28 and said that Twitter violated a 2011 consent order by the U.S. government. The order required Twitter to disclose to users what they would be doing with the information provided for its security measures.

The complaint alleged that Twitter, between 2013 and 2019, used not just phone numbers but also email address data given by users for targeted advertising.

A mistake that was fixed?

Twitter revealed in October 2019 that they had inadvertently used the personal information provided by their users, specifically phone numbers and email addresses, for targeted ads.

They claimed that while this happened, they did not share any of the personal data with advertisers and other entities. They also claimed that the problem was already fixed as of September 17, 2019, as reported by Market Watch.

Twitter also said that limits were already set with respect as to how they share user data with third parties. This was made after a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Twitter in hot water for alleged misuse of personal phone numbers

Twitter could suffer heavy losses

The company stands to lose anywhere between $150 million to $250 million. “The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome,” Twitter said in their Monday statement, quoted by CNBC. 

In addition to revealing that they received the FTC complaint, Twitter also said on Monday that one of the major effects of the global pandemic specific to their industry was “a significant decrease in global advertising.”

The company also said that how this will affect them in the big picture will depend on how long and how bad the effects of the pandemic will be on the global economy.

After-hours trading saw Twitter’s stock falling 1.6% after the company’s filing. The FTC complaint came two weeks after a security breach that risked the accounts of various high-profile Twitter users.

The list includes former President Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates.

The company claimed that the security breach might have damaged their reputation and revealed that the hack could cause not just a loss of accounts and content, but also partners and advertisers.

Images courtesy of OverHope.STP, Marten Bjork/Unsplash

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