KYIV, UKRAINE-JUNE, 2020: Twitter Mobile Application on the Smart Phone Screen. Close Up Studio Shot of Smartphone with Twitter Application.

Twitter agrees to $150M settlement with DOJ and FTC over privacy breach

Twitter Inc. has agreed to settle allegations of data privacy violations brought against it by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The two agencies alleged that the social media giant violated the FTC Act by deceiving users about the use of data it collected. 

In a press release, the DOJ said that the settlement deal includes a $150 million civil penalty payment. Twitter is also required to implement a comprehensive data privacy compliance program moving forward as part of the deal. 

“Twitter has agreed to settle the government’s allegations by paying a $150 million civil penalty and implementing significant new compliance measures intended to ensure that Twitter improves its data privacy practices,” the release stated. 

Twitter’s chief privacy officer, Damien Kieran, explained the specifics of the violation in an official statement. He said in the blog that the settlement was made for a privacy incident disclosed in 2019. 

At the time, some user email addresses and phone numbers provided for account security purposes were “inadvertently” used for advertising. Kieran added that Twitter remains committed to user privacy and is cooperating with the FTC. 

“Keeping data secure and respecting privacy is something we take extremely seriously, and we have cooperated with the FTC every step of the way… we have aligned with the agency [FTC] on operational updates and program enhancements to ensure that people’s personal data remains secure and their privacy protected,” he wrote. 

Twitter still on the verge of transitioning to new ownership 

The micro-blogging platform has been the center of a lot of attention recently. Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX and the current world’s richest man, submitted a $44 billion takeover bid to buy the company. 

Musk’s vision for the social media platform is to make it the supposed bedrock of free speech. He has also stated the particular pain points he will tackle, including defeating spam bots, making Twitter’s algorithm open source, and improving the platform’s products and services in general. 

Digital currency proponents have stated that Musk can achieve these goals by changing Twitter’s business model. One observer opines that Twitter needs to go from depending on ads to one based on micropayments using a scalable blockchain.

According to a recent CNBC update, Musk is still committed to the purchase despite several setbacks. Musk has now increased his financial commitment to the bid to $33.5 billion. 

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