X to collect biometrics under new policy as Musk says audio and video calls coming soon

Social platform's privacy policy will go into effect on September 29

X offers verified status to anyone paying for an X Premium subscription. AFP
Powered by automated translation

X, the social media company previously known as Twitter, will start collecting users’ biometric data as well as their education and job histories under a new privacy policy, with the platform also set to start allowing audio and video calls soon.

The new privacy policy will go into effect on September 29.

“Based on your consent, we may collect and use your biometric information for safety, security and identification purposes,” X said in its new policy.

However, the company does not explain what it considers biometric.

X will collect biometrics only from premium users and will give them the option to submit their government ID and an image to add a verification layer, Bloomberg reported.

“This will additionally help us tie, for those that choose, an account to a real person by processing their government issued ID … this will also help X fight impersonation attempts and make the platform more secure,” X said in a statement to Bloomberg.

Billionaire businessman Elon Musk, who bought Twitter last year, said one of his main priorities was to make the platform safe and free from fake accounts.

Following the policy update, Mr Musk announced that X users would be able to make video and audio calls through the platform on both iOS and Android operating systems. They will not be required to share their phone number to make calls, he added.

“X is the effective global address book … that set of factors is unique,” Mr Musk said.

In the past few years, various technology companies such as Meta, Apple and Google have faced criticism and even hefty fines from regulators due to their practices of collecting and using data without the users’ permission. The companies have been accused of using the information to sell customised advertisements based on users' purchasing patterns, online behaviours and search records.

Mr Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition of the San Francisco-based microblogging platform last October and has made a series of changes since.

In December, Twitter relaunched Twitter Blue - now called X Premium - the platform’s top-tier account, which indicates a user is verified, as a paid subscription service.

The premium feature’s fees start at $8 a month for individuals, with joiners receiving subscriber-only features including Edit Tweet, 1080p video uploads, reader mode, the coveted blue check mark and longer tweets.

Updated: August 31, 2023, 5:42 PM