Twitter could be facing up to a $250 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for inadvertently misusing customer data. In 2011, Twitter entered into an agreement with the FTC that it would no longer mislead customers about the use of their personal information. However, between 2013 and 2019, users provided phone numbers and email addresses to the company for safety and security purposes, such as two factor authentication, but that information was then used for marketing reasons. These actions caused Twitter to violate the 2011 agreement. The FTC’s investigation into the matter is still ongoing, and Twitter is taking steps to ensure the mistake does not happen again.
Twitter’s mistake highlights the importance of ensuring the customer understands how their information will be used. When obtaining consent under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the disclosure must clearly outline what the customer is agreeing to when supplying their information. If the customer gives their phone number for informational purposes, the business cannot then call with solicitous intent.
This investigation comes nearly one year after the FTC fined Facebook $5 billion for misrepresenting how it was using customer data, among other things. These recent crackdowns indicate an industry shift to more protections on customer privacy and transparency in how customer information will be used.
If you’re concerned about how your organization is using customer data, we’ve compiled a checklist to help ensure compliance with the TCPA here.