Twitter Urges Judge To Toss Suit Over Ad-Targeting Slip-Up -- For Good

Twitter is urging a federal judge to again throw out a class-action privacy lawsuit over allegations that the company incorporated users' email addresses and phone numbers, which were provided for security purposes, into an ad-targeting platform.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Sallie Kim in the Northern District of California previously dismissed the complaint, ruling in December that even if the allegations in the complaint were proven true, they would not show that Twitter's users had been harmed.

At the time, Kim allowed the users who brought the complaint to beef up their allegations and bring it again. The users did so last month.

Twitter now says the new complaint should also be dismissed, this time with prejudice -- meaning that the users wouldn't be able to revise their allegations and refile the complaint.

“Plaintiffs still fail to allege any concrete, particularized injury,” Twitter writes in papers filed Wednesday with Kim.

The battle dates to last May, soon after the Federal Trade Commission fined Twitter $150 million for allegedly misleading users by asking for their phone numbers and email addresses for security, then feeding that data into an ad-targeting platform. The FTC claimed that Twitter's alleged misrepresentations violated a 2011 consent decree barring the company from misstating its privacy practices.

Twitter, which disclosed the snafu in 2019, said the contact data was mistakenly incorporated into an ad platform that allows companies to use their own marketing lists to target ads on Twitter.

Maryland resident Lauren Price, later joined by other Twitter users, sued Twitter over the data mixup.

Price and the others alleged in their amended complaint that phone numbers and email addresses are valuable to advertisers.

The amended complaint referenced various online estimates by consultants, specifically citing an Avid Mobile study for the proposition that the value of an email address to an advertiser is around $33, and the value of a phone number is around $101.

“Numerous marketing services and consultants, offering advice to companies on how to build their email and mobile phone lists -- including those seeking to take advantage of Twitter’s targeted marketing, at issue here -- direct putative advertisers to offer consumers something of value in exchange for their personal information,” the users alleged in the February complaint.

Twitter counters that even with the new allegations, the users haven't shown how they could have been harmed.

“Plaintiffs still fail to allege any concrete, particularized injury for purposes,” Twitter writes.

The company adds that the allegations about the value of contact data “suggest only that contact information can be valuable to a business that uses it to communicate advertising to its customers,” and not that the plaintiffs personally attempted to sell their data, or that their ability to do so was impaired by Twitter.

Price and the other users are expected to respond to Twitter's argument later this month.

Next story loading loading..