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May 25, 2022, 6:06 p.m. EDT

FTC Penalizes Twitter $150M for Deceptive Targeted Advertising Tactics

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By Denny Jacob

The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that Twitter Inc. must pay a $150 million penalty for deceptively using account security data for targeted advertising.

Twitter asked users to give their phone numbers and email addresses to protect their accounts and then profited by allowing advertisers to use this data to target specific users, the FTC said. The agency said Twitter's tactics violated a 2011 order that explicitly prohibited the company from misrepresenting its privacy and security practices.

More than 140 million Twitter users provided their phone numbers or email addresses from 2014 to 2019, according to a complaint filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC. Twitter failed to mention that the information would also be used for targeted advertising, the FTC alleged.

In addition to the $150 million penalty, Twitter is banned from profiting from its deceptively collected data, the FTC said. Other provisions of the proposed order include notifying users that it misused phone numbers and email addresses, and allowing users to use other multi-factor authentication methods.

The news is the latest development surrounding the social media platform, which has been in the public eye since Elon Musk's $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter.

Write to Denny Jacob at denny.jacob@wsj.com

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