Social media platform Twitter has had a fair share of talks and commentary this year owing to its acquisition by billionaire Elon Musk.
Twitter has weathered storms ranging from Elon Musk’s controversial acquisition to stakeholders launching a lawsuit alleging market manipulation. The social media company now has had more thrown at it with a fine they have recently incurred.
The corporation was fined $150 million by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) last week for sharing customer’s data with third parties without their authorization. Twitter collected email addresses and phone numbers for security reasons, but then exploited the information to target them with advertisements, according to authorities.
Commenting on this, FTC Chair Lina Khan said that the social media platform 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 users while boosting Twitter’s primary source of revenue,” he observed.
Between May 2013 and September 2019, the cases that led to the substantial fine occurred. While users were requested to supply information for two-factor authentication, Twitter exploited this information to allow advertisers to target specific groups of Twitter users. Advertisers were able to match phone numbers and email addresses to what they already had in their database, making it simple to send tailored ads.