Twitter has agreed to pay $150 million in fines after U.S. authorities accused the platform of misleading its users between 2013 and 2019.
150 million dollar fine
The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that Twitter will have to pay a $150 million fine to settle allegations that the platform misled its users. Indeed, the social network would have hidden from its users that it was using their personal data to help companies send them targeted advertising. The platform would have violated a confidentiality agreement made in 2011 with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice said the company would also be prohibited from taking advantage of the “deceptively collected” data and would be required to notify the more than 140 million affected users that it had used their phone numbers and email addresses for advertising purposes. The company will also need to implement and maintain a new privacy program.
140 million users
“This practice affected more than 140 million Twitter users, while increasing Twitter’s primary source of revenue,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement.
Twitter said Wednesday that this use of its users’ data was done “inadvertently” and that the incident was first disclosed in 2019.
“This issue was resolved on September 17, 2019, and today we want to reiterate the work we will continue to do to protect the privacy and security of people who use Twitter,” communicated Damien Kieran, Twitter’s chief privacy officer.
Twitter’s fine is still significantly less than the FTC’s $5 billion fine against Facebook in 2019, but is slightly more than the 2018 settlement the states reached with Uber for a 2016 data breach. The fine thus amounts to about 13% of Twitter’s revenue in the first quarter of 2022. More recently, in 2020, the company suffered a data breach that targeted high-profile politicians and billionaires, including Elon Musk.
Elon Musk reassures investors
At the same time, Elon Musk raised the amount contributed directly by the entrepreneur and his partners for the purchase of Twitter to $ 33.5 billion, further lowering the amount borrowed from banks.
According to a document filed Wednesday by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the billionaire, who had initially taken out $25.5 billion in loans, has lowered his borrowings to $13 billion, which should considerably lighten his financial burden.
After the announcement, the share of the group with the blue bird took off in the exchanges after the closing of Wall Street: towards 23h GMT, the share took more than 5%.
Elon Musk, who has more than 95 million subscribers on the platform, says he wants to make the social network a bastion of free speech, following the vision of American Republicans, who consider themselves censored on the Internet.