Twitter has been fined £119 million for selling users’ data. The micro-blogging site has been issued with a whopping fine by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice after they say it violated a deal it had with regulators, say court documents.
According to the documents, Twitter had agreed to not sell personal data - such as phone numbers and email addresses - to advertisers and that federal investigators say this promise was broken.
The FTC - which seeks to enforce antitrust law and ensure consumer protection - accuses Twitter of breaking the terms of an order that banned them from misrepresenting its privacy and security practices.
Twitter - whose main source of revenue is advertising as it is free to post up-to 280 character messages - is alleged to have targeted users with ads based on phone numbers and email addresses gathered on the pretense of improving account security.
Lina Khan, the chair of the FTC the documents stated that the was data was used for "security purposes" and to make targeted ads.
She said read: "As the complaint notes, Twitter obtained data from users on the pretext of harnessing it for security purposes, but then ended up also using the data to target users with ads."
"This practice affected more than 140 million Twitter users, while boosting Twitter's primary source of revenue."
This move was critiqued for establishing “a false sense of security” among users for collecting the information - which authenticates accounts - for security reasons by industry professionals.
Ian Reynolds, the managing director of Secure Team, a computer security firm told the BBC: "Once again, Twitter is violating the trust that their users have in their platform by using their private information to their own advantage and increasing their own revenue."
"Twitter led their customers into a false sense of security by acquiring their data through claiming it was for security purposes and protecting their account, but ultimately ended up using the data to target their users with ads.
"This reality shows the power that companies still have over your data and that there is a long way to go before users can be comfortable knowing that they have full control over their own digital footprint."