FTC Makes Twitter Promise Not To Mislead Customers About Privacy

Twitter has settled a Federal Trade Commission investigation, which started after a hacker gained access to a number of Twitter accounts (including President Barack Obama’s) and sent out fake tweets from those addresses. Under the terms of the settlement, Twitter “will be barred for 20 years from misleading consumers about the extent to which it maintains and protects the security, privacy and confidentiality of nonpublic consumer information.” We don’t know what happens in year 21.

In a statement, FTC consumer protection chief David Vladek said:

When a company promises consumers that their personal information is secure, it must live up to that promise. Likewise, a company that allows consumers to designate their information as private must use reasonable security to uphold such designations. Consumers who use social networking sites may choose to share some information with others, but they still have a right to expect that their personal information will be kept private and secure.

Twitter also agreed to have its security systems and policies reviewed by an independent auditor every other year for 10 years. Twitter’s lawyer says the company’s security already meets the government’s requirements: “Even before the agreement, we’d implemented many of the FTC’s suggestions and the agreement formalizes our commitment to those security practices,” Alexander Macgillivray wrote on the company blog.

Twitter Settles Charges that it Failed to Protect Consumers’ Personal Information; Company Will Establish Independently Audited Information Security Program [Official Release]
FTC Announcement [Twitter Blog]


Edit Your Comment

  1. aja175 says:

    So wait, they only have to be straight with users about privacy and security for 20 years? After that, what happens? How come facebook doesn’t have similar rules?

    • humphrmi says:

      Think ICQ, or Usenet, etc. 20 years from now, Twitter will be passe, and it won’t matter. Nothing lasts in the Internet era longer than about 5 years. I agree with you about Facebook though.

      • operator207 says:

        You really need to revise your thoughts of usenet. Seriously. Or not, it’s probably better that you believe usenet is dead.

  2. Im Just Saying says:

    Isn’t 20 years practically three lifetimes for a Dot Com?

  3. Megalomania says:

    by year 21, twitter will be old news and the only people who use it will be neo-hipsters who find it ironic.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Great. Now how about Facebook?

    • Doubts42 says:

      Facebook puts it fairly clearly in their EULA that all your info belongs to them and that they will use it however they want.

      the courts aren’t saying that twitter has to keep your info private, it is just saying they can’t claim they do when they don’t.

  5. pantheonoutcast says:

    Perhaps this is slightly off-topic, but can anyone tell me exactly what benefit one gains from using Twitter? It’s basically a text message that anyone can see, as long as they are also using Twitter, and happen to be “following” you? It just seems so redundant and needlessly complicated.

    • Noir says:

      Work forced me to make one (dude, you’re an “interest figure” in a niche market. You HAVE to have one) and use it mostly to follow businesses I have relationships with to complain when something goes wrong and customer service sucks and small bands I tend to forget they exist, so I can keep up with the lastest releases.
      For “personal” use? Yeah, twitter is the most retarded thing of the “Web 2.0”

    • Im Just Saying says:

      It’s not needlessly complicated, it’s actually quite easy. But you’re right, it is redundant if you’re following people you know. I’ve found twitters best value is in following products I use because there are lots of deals posted through twitter. I follow every single Vegas strip property because they constantly run twitter-only specials. I also follow comics so I have advance notice when they come to town.

      For things like that, twitter is incredibly usefull.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      I consider it a mix of mobile micro-blog and IM client. http://twitter.com/GitEmSteveDave

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        They look like fortune cookie sayings as written by schizophrenic lunatics.

        Which I’m not totally against…

  6. flbas says:

    did ATT just release the email addresses of the high-ranking iPad owners? or is that already settled?

  7. jdmba says:

    wait … what privacy. Isn’t twitter about publicizing every step you take?

  8. Dyscord says:

    My question is why this is being applied to Twitter, a place where VERY FEW people have an expectation of privacy, and not…say..FACEBOOK, the place with a ton of people who still expect their info to be private?

  9. DerangedHermit says:

    I guess the fail whale is apt here.

  10. peebozi says:

    good thing they went after twitter and not the credit card companies (chase sent out social security numbers on the front of the envelopes), retail stores, etc.

    the market will work itself out on this one though…no need for regulation.

  11. Coelacanth says:

    +1 for the Fail Whale.

  12. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    OK, so, let me get this straight…

    They have to not mislead customers for 20 years. And they got a special order about that.

    …am I imagining things, or is it already illegal to mislead customers?