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Twitter to pay $150 million because it didn’t tell consumers it used their information for targeted ads

Twitter-on a smart Phont g4830e11c4_640Twitter will pay $150 million to settle a lawsuit – filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on the Federal Trade Commission’s behalf – that said Twitter collected users’ information for one purpose, to secure accounts, and used it for another, targeted advertising, the agencies announced Monday.

Twitter told consumers it was collecting their telephone numbers and email addresses for various security purposes, such as enabling multi-factor authentication, a security feature that requires additional steps beyond logging in with a password.

But the FTC says Twitter didn’t tell consumers that their information was also used to target them with ads. The settlement requires Twitter to put in place a comprehensive privacy and data security program to protect users’ data.

Twitter also needs to disclose why and how it collects, shares, and uses consumers’ personal information and offer a multi-factor authentication option that doesn’t require them to give a phone number.

Rosario Méndez, an attorney with the FTC, offers these tips on protecting your personal information:

  • Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. This helps protect your information because it makes it harder for scammers to log in to your accounts even if they steal your username and password.
  • Choose forms of multi-factor authentication that don’t involve personal information if offered. This protects your privacy, too. Look for things like authentication apps or physical tokens. If you have to choose security questions, select questions only you know the answer to. You can even put in random answers to make guessing more difficult. If you do that, you’ll have to remember the answers you use.
  • Check your privacy settings. If you don’t want to get targeted ads, look in your privacy settings to see if you can opt out. Some platforms allow you to do that. To avoid targeted ads more broadly, go to the National Advertising Initiative and the Digital Advertising Alliance websites.


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