Earlier this month, social media giant Twitter agreed to pay $150 million to settle a case the federal government has brought against the company. This marks a relatively quick resolution to the Federal Trade Commission lawsuit filed against Twitter on May 25, 2022 alleging the company engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices. While the $150 million fine is a moral victory for consumers, the fine does not go to Twitter users who have been impacted by the company’s misuse of data. However, Twitter users who gave Twitter their email address or phone number between May 2013 and September 2019 may be eligible to join a class action lawsuit against the company for damages.
If you provided your mobile number or email address to Twitter between 2013 and 2019, you may be able to file or join an existing class action lawsuit against Twitter. To learn more about data privacy claims, who can get relief, and the next steps to file a class action lawsuit, please see our recent article on the subject. here.
What did Twitter do wrong?
Recently, two separate but related lawsuits were filed against Twitter. Both involve allegations that Twitter misled users into providing their information to the company under the guise of protecting their accounts; However, in reality, the company used this information to bolster its primary source of revenue: targeted ads.
The first was filed by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), which is the federal agency responsible for overseeing and enforcing the nation’s consumer protection laws. The FTC’s lawsuit against Twitter claims that “between May 2013 and at least September 2019, Twitter misrepresented to users of its online communications service the extent to which it maintained and protected the security and privacy of their nonpublic contact information. “. Specifically, the FTC claimed that Twitter told users it was collecting their phone numbers and email addresses to secure their accounts. But in reality, “Twitter has not disclosed that it also uses users’ contact information to help advertisers reach their preferred audiences.” In other words, Twitter allegedly misused consumer data in an effort to make its targeted ads more effective.
The FTC lawsuit also claimed Twitter violated a 2011 court order that prohibited the company from misrepresenting how it maintains and protects the security and privacy of nonpublic consumer information. In other words, this isn’t the first time Twitter has been in hot water over how the company misused user information.
What does the FTC’s lawsuit against Twitter mean for Twitter users?
Technically, the FTC lawsuit was filed on behalf of the federal government. So the $150 million paid by the company goes to the government rather than consumers affected by Twitter’s data usage policies. However, in settling the FTC case, some argue that Twitter implicitly admitted to misleading users by claiming to collect their information for security purposes, but actually used it to generate revenue for the company. In fact, as part of the settlement, Twitter is required to implement various compliance measures to ensure that this type of incident does not happen again.
To be clear, the Twitter FTC lawsuit is not going to put money in the hands of Twitter users. However, there is another type of privacy lawsuit on Twitter that involves cases filed on behalf of Twitter users. Consumer privacy attorneys are actively investigating Twitter users’ options for holding the company accountable for the misuse of their data.
Who can sue Twitter privacy?
The allegations against Twitter indicate that the company may have misled users about how it used their data from May 2013 until at least September 2019. Thus, anyone who provided Twitter with their mobile phone number or address email for the purpose of setting up two-factor authentication may be entitled to financial compensation. According to a press release from the US Department of Justice, which pursued the case with the FTC, Twitter’s practices affected 140 million Twitter users.
As part of the Twitter FTC lawsuit, the company is required to notify “all U.S. customers who joined Twitter before September 17, 2019 of the settlement and provide users with options to protect their privacy and security.” However, even if you don’t receive a privacy letter from Twitter, you can still claim compensation. Those with questions about eligibility to join a Twitter class action should contact an experienced consumer privacy attorney for immediate assistance.