Twitter braced for $250m fine over ad data
Margi Murphy in San Francisco
TWITTER has warned it may have to pay a $250m (£191m) fine for using people’s phone numbers and email addresses to target them with advertising without their knowledge.
The US Federal Trade Commission sent a complaint last week over the social network’s use of the data, including that of 14m people in the UK, between 2013 and 2019. Twitter said at the time the numbers and addresses would be used to secure users’ accounts, but later admitted it had inadvertently used these details to personalise advertising it displayed.
The company has set aside $150m for a settlement but believes that it could total $250m, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange
Commission. A Twitter spokesman said: “Following the announcement of our second-quarter financial results, we received a draft complaint from the FTC alleging violations of our 2011 consent order. Following standard accounting rules, we included an estimated range for settlement in our 10-Q filed on Aug 3.”
The matter remained “unresolved”, the document stated. The complaint is not linked to last month’s major hack, in which several high-profile accounts were hijacked as part of a “sophisticated” Bitcoin scam.
Briton Mason Sheppard, 19, of Bognor Regis, was charged on Friday by the Department of Justice, alongside two alleged American accomplices that officials claim orchestrated the attack.
The teenagers are accused of hijacking numerous celebrity accounts to try to convince people to pay into a Bitcoin wallet, which reached more than $100,000 before Twitter gained control of the social network.
Mr Sheppard faces 45 years in prison if found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and the intentional access of a protected computer. The hackers accessed the private messages of 36 accounts.