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FTC Investigation of Twitter for Alleged Privacy Violations Reinforces Need for Strong Privacy Policies and Practices

On August 3, 2020, Twitter disclosed in a regulatory filing that it is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for allegations that the company used user phone numbers and email addresses for targeted advertising in violation of a 2011 Consent Agreement. Twitter estimates that it could face $150 to $250 million in losses due to legal fees and enforcement penalties resulting from this matter.

The 2011 Consent Agreement resolved charges that Twitter violated the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act) when hackers obtained administrative control of Twitter allowing them access to non-public user information, private tweets, and the ability to send out fake tweets from any user’s account. The FTC found that Twitter’s actions neither upheld statements in its privacy policy, nor provided reasonable and appropriate security to prevent unauthorized access to nonpublic user data and honor the privacy choices of its users.

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