May 31, 2022
In a complaint filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), the FTC alleged that Twitter mislead the users and did not provide full and adequate disclosure on processing of certain personal information.
According to the FTC, between the years 2013 to 2019 Twitter used a multy-factor authentication mechanism for security purposes, however, used the information obtained through such (i.e., contact information) for other purposes such as serving targeted ads for Twitter’s financial benefit. Specifically, while Twitter represented to users that it collected their telephone numbers and email addresses to secure their accounts, Twitter failed to disclose that it also used user contact information to aid advertisers in reaching their preferred audiences. It wasn’t Twitter’s first alleged violation of the FTC Act, but this one will cost the company $150 million in civil penalties.
Twitter induced its users to provide their phone numbers and email addresses by claiming that the company’s purpose was, for example, to “Safeguard your account.” Twitter further encouraged users to provide that information because “An extra layer of security helps make sure that you, and only you, can access your Twitter account.”
Misrepresentations or deceptive omissions of material fact constitute deceptive acts or practices prohibited by Section 5(a) of the FTC Act.
In 2010 the FTC complaint against Twitter and claimed that Twitter didn’t have reasonable safeguards to ensure users’ choices (i.e., choosing to make the twitts private) were honored. The 2010 complaint cited multiple instances in which Twitter’s actions – and inactions – led to unauthorized access of users’ personal information.
On May 25th 2022, the parties reached the following settlement, which must be approved by a federal court:
What can you take from the this?
This update is intended to provide only a general background regarding this matter. This update should not be regarded as setting out binding legal advice but rather as a practical overview that is based on our understanding. APM & Co. is not licensed to practice law outside of Israel.
APM Technology and Regulation Team.