Twitter on Monday disclosed it's under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for using personal information provided by users for security reasons to target them with advertising. The probe could lead to a loss of as much as $250 million, the company said in a regulatory filing Monday.
Twitter said it received a draft complaint from the FTC alleging the company had violated a 2011 consent decree in which it agreed to work harder to safeguard users' personal information.
"The allegations relate to the Company's use of phone number and/or email address data provided for safety and security purposes for targeted advertising during periods between 2013 and 2019," the company said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. "The matter remains unresolved and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome."
The investigation apparently relates to a revelation Twitter made last year in which it informed users that had recently discovered that users' email addresses and phone numbers meant to be used for security reasons "."
That information is supposed to be used solely for account protection purposes, but Twitter said advertisers were able to tap the phone numbers to target commercials, through the company's "Tailored Audiences" and "Partner Audiences advertising system.
The FTC didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.