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Are you on social media? Check your privacy settings. Use multi-factor authentication. Protect your information.  Learn more at ftc.gov/YourPrivacy

Twitter introduced the world to the concept of communicating in short tweets. But the FTC says that doesn’t mean taking shortcuts with people’s privacy. Today, the FTC announced that Twitter must pay $150 million to settle a complaint — filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on the FTC’s behalf — saying that Twitter collected users’ information for one purpose (to secure accounts) and used it for another (targeted advertising).

According to the complaint, Twitter told people it was collecting users’ telephone numbers and email addresses for various security purposes — like 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 people that their information was also used to target them with ads. Today’s settlement means Twitter must put into place a comprehensive privacy and data security program to protect users’ data. Twitter must also disclose why and how it collects, shares, and uses your personal information and offer a multi-factor authentication option that doesn’t require you to give a phone number.

The lesson here?   

  • 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 manage to 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, though, 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 let you do that. To avoid targeted ads more broadly, check out the National Advertising Initiative and the Digital Advertising Alliance.

12 Comments

Keith
May 26, 2022

Go figure, is that why I get a hundred spam calls a day

PeteD
May 26, 2022

Who benefits from the $150M settlement?

FTC Staff
May 26, 2022

In reply to by PeteD

Under the proposed order, Twitter must pay a $150 million penalty and is banned from profiting from its deceptively collected data. The $150 million civil penalty will be paid to the US Treasury.

Richard Bennett
May 26, 2022

Is there a claim form for the Twitter privacy and targeted advertising??

Sandy Morgan
May 26, 2022

Where does the $150 million go?

FTC Staff
May 26, 2022

In reply to by Sandy Morgan

Under the proposed order, Twitter must pay a $150 million penalty and is banned from profiting from its deceptively collected data. The $150 million civil penalty will be paid to the US Treasury.

dennis g kenny
May 26, 2022

I have been wondering all of a sudden Twitter is on my e mail feed,as far as i know, I have never had anything to do with Twitter, now every day it posts something, I deleteit and it ends up in my spam folder,very irritating.Thanks

christine
May 26, 2022

Who is getting the $150 million? It should be divided among Twitter users...Don't you think?

DJ Bursey
May 26, 2022

Where's all that settlement money going? Not to the users, I'm pretty sure.

Raphael Serrano
May 26, 2022

Thanks for the update

Michael J.
May 27, 2022

This is a start but can hardly be held up as some sort of victory. I'm surprised tech companies even bother putting up the charade of caring about respecting people's privacy. The FTC and lawmakers need to make non-targetted advertising the DEFAULT! The vast majority of Americans hate the trackers and hate that they feel so powerless to stop them! Burying the option to turn it off deep down some settings hole doesn't make it ok!
Someone please do something!

hamari wishes
June 01, 2022

In reply to by Michael J.

The FTC and lawmakers need to make non-targetted advertising the DEFAULT! The vast majority of Americans hate the trackers and hate that they feel so powerless to stop them! Burying the option to turn it off deep down some settings hole doesn't make it ok!
Someone please do something!