Twitter Growth Skyrockets, Settles Privacy Case With FTC


Twitter released substantial growth statistics Monday demonstrating the company's climb to the top. Although the metrics don't tie directly to the privacy settlement the Federal Trade Commission made final Friday, the exponential growth should defuse any thoughts advertisers might have about abandoning the service.

It all began on on March 21, 2006, when Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey (@jack) sent the first tweet to invite others onto the service. The rest is history. On March 11, 2011, users sent 177 million tweets. It took 3 years, 2 months and 1 day from the first tweet to the billionth. Today, users send about 1 billion tweets per week.

Twitter's adverting service Promoted Tweets had 572,000 new accounts created March 12, 2011. The service hit 460,000 new accounts on average per day in February, and the service experienced a 182% increase in the number of mobile users during the past year.

Twitter now has 400 employees supporting services, up from 350 in January 2011, 130 in January 2010, 29 in January 2009, and 8 in January 2008.

The numbers provide transparency into the company's growth, pouring water on any smoke rising from the agreement with the FTC. Complaints of not doing enough to safeguard user privacy led Twitter to settle with the FTC. The breaches occurred between January and May 2009, when hackers gained access to administrative controls.

The settlement -- a 5 to 0 vote -- means the company must establish a stricter information security policy and have it audited every two years by an independent third party. Twitter will need to pick up the bill.

A note in the FTC release states that each violation could cost Twitter up to $16,000.

Twitter also got 20 years probation, barred from "misleading consumers about the extent to which it protects the security, privacy, and confidentiality of nonpublic consumer information, including the measures it takes to prevent unauthorized access to nonpublic information and honor the privacy choices made by consumers."

If the FTC legal jargon is a bit overwhelming, Joseph Rosenbaum, a Reed Smith partner, sums it up nicely. He outlines the ruling against Twitter and touches on social media privacy issues in general.


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