By Aaron Martin - 10 Aug 2018
August 9th, 2018 - a French High Court in Paris fined Twitter to the tune of 30,000 euros after ruling in favor of UFC Que Choisir, a not-for-profit consumer group that took issue with Twitter’s terms and conditions. Moreover, the social media company is now required to change the way it gets permission to use data if obtains from users.
UFC Que Choisir’s victory against the popular social media platform is a long time coming, as the case was filed against Twitter as well as Facebook and Google in 2014. This ruling by the Tribunal de grande instance grants credence to UFC Que Choisir’s claim that Twitter willfully exploited user data. The consumer group cited the trio’s terms and conditions as ‘incomprehensible, illegible, filled with hyperlinks...and sometimes referring to pages in English’. Now that Twitter’s fate has been decided in the French court, the not-for-profit is confident that the court will rule similarly against Facebook and Google as well.
Although the 30,000 euro fine alone is unlikely to have a serious negative impact on the multi-billion dollar company, the move by a European consumer group underscores the growing importance of respecting consumer privacy in the eyes of the law. Particularly telling here is the complaint against Twitter’s lack of transparency by not making their policies comprehensible to international users, who may be accepting terms they do not understand. UFC Que Choisir had attempted to negotiate with the accused trio after months of negotiations prior to filing the case.
The Twitter ruling is further evidence that, with the advent of GDPR and a number of other data privacy laws around the world, companies are finding themselves less and less able to act with impunity toward consumers and advocates demanding more control over their data and how it is used. It's also not the first time Twitter has involved in a case of alleged misuse of its users’ personal information. Earlier this year, Twitter admitted to selling 5 months of user data to Dr. Aleksandr Kogan of Cambridge Analytica in 2015, although they claimed the sale to be legitimate, only involving data that is publicly available. Facebook came under fire earlier this year when it was discovered that they allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal data of 87 million Facebook users.