Twit­ter braced for $250m fine over ad data

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By

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.

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