Twitter revealed that it had earmarked $150 million as fine for a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) probe into improper use of users’ phone numbers and email addresses for targeting ads at them. This fine could go up to $250 million and is allegedly in violation of a 2011 settlement between Twitter and FTC as per which Twitter had to informs its users about how it protects their personal information from unauthorised access.

Twitter, in its 10-Q filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed on August 3, revealed that the company had used users’ phone numbers and email addresses to target ads between 2013 and 2019, thereby exceeding the state purpose of safety and security. The 2011 settlement specifically barred Twitter from misleading users and was the culmination of a 2009 FTC complaint as per which hackers were able get administrative control of Twitter on two occasions between January and May 2009.

Twitter had received the complaint from FTC on July 28, 2020, in response to Twitter’s quarterly earnings that it had filed with the SEC on July 23. It is not clear if this complaint was sent in response to the Twitter hack of July 2020. We have reached out to the company for more details.