Apparently Twitter Will Be Allowed To Mislead Consumers In 20 Years (But Not Before)

from the odd-terms dept

Twitter recently settled a complaint from the FTC concerning some of its security practices. That story, by itself, isn’t all that interesting: basically Twitter had some problems when it was growing, the FTC slapped them down, and the company is now promising to be more careful , going forward. Nothing too out of the ordinary. However, ChurchHatesTucker points out one odd aspect to the settlement:

“Under the terms of the settlement, Twitter will be barred for 20 years 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.”

From that quote, it certainly sounds like Twitter will actually be allowed to mislead consumers about the extent to which it protects the security, privacy and confidentiality of nonpublic consumer information after those 20 years are up. I mean, why even put such a term on something like this?

In the meantime, it seems worth pointing out the contrast here, where the FTC (part of the Obama administration) is slapping down Twitter for revealing nonpublic consumer information… at the very same time that the very same administration has demanded all sorts of nonpublic consumer information about Twitter users. Mixed messages much?

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Companies: ftc, twitter

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Comments on “Apparently Twitter Will Be Allowed To Mislead Consumers In 20 Years (But Not Before)”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Think of the 20 year term as “probation”. Things like this are used so that the bar for further prosecution is set significantly lower than it would otherwise, because Twitter has been specifically warned in these areas. It is very likely that it would trigger not only legal action for the “new” violation, but might also bring back into play the issue that lead to such a decree to start with.

another mike (profile) says:

a score

The world wide web isn’t yet 20 years old. Think of how many companies from those early days are still around. Alta Vista, Geocities, Angelfire, Lycos; those names mean anything to anyone out there? Oracle just shuttered Sun. Microsoft seems to be the only one still going. AOL and Yahoo are pale shadows of their former selves. Google is only 10 years old; YouTube 5. The lifespan of social networks is even shorter. Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace,, but how big did any of them get? Maybe they were before their time but now their time has passed.
Such long term penalties are meaningless when things move at the speed of the internet.

James (profile) says:


Being a lawyer myself, I think this is just a legal trick as opposed to a stupid concept.

If the term expires in 20 years, it provides an avenue to review the terms of the settlement, and amend the same. basically, it allows for the terms to be reviewed in 20 years time. Something that I would think is necessary.

Although I don’t know why that wouldn’t just be put in there explicitly. Hmm maybe I am wrong…

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