Twitter Apologizes for Using Your Phone Number for Advertising

Cartoon image of a sperm whale being held aloft by balloons

'We recently discovered that when you provided an email address or phone number for safety or security purposes (for example, two-factor authentication),' reads the blog post. The issue was rectified by September 17th, according to the firm.

What happened? Twitter's Tailored Audiences and Partner Audiences allow advertisers to target users based on marketing lists they upload to upload to Twitter.

Social media companies, including Twitter and Facebook, have faced heat from users and regulators globally on how their platforms handle user data.

Twitter has admitted that it has been using phone numbers and email addresses that its users have provided to enable two-factor security for advertising purposes.

Twitter says that some of its users' phone numbers and email addresses provided for account security like two-factor authentication may have been used accidentally for ad targeting.

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When users and companies promote sponsored tweets on Twitter, they can filter an ad's audience based on a series of criteria. In its statement, the company said that it "cannot say with certainty how many people were impacted by this".

Adding to Twitter's potential troubles, the company finalized an agreement with the FTC in 2011 that alleged the company failed to protect users from security threats. And Twitter said it's doing what it can to make sure it doesn't. But Twitter data misuse for advertisements turned out to be the most unexpected.

Still, for affected users, there isn't much to do, other than hope it doesn't happen again. "That's further compounded by the fact that Twitter is also under order already by the FTC".

It wasn't long ago-August 6 to be exact-that Twitter reported that it might have shared data on people who clicked ads for mobile apps since May 2018 with advertisers and analytics firms, without gaining permission from users.

Specifically, the numbers were meant to set up two-factor authentication, in which users can secure their account from would-be hackers by using their mobile device or email as a fail-safe.

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