Twitter recently spoke out about their “unintentional” use of people’s personal data for serving targeted ads in advertising campaigns. According to the official disclosure, Twitter is not aware of how many people were actually impacted by these actions that can be classified as serious privacy violations.
In an attempt to reverse the negative impact of the situation, Twitter addressed the incident publicly on September 17th. However, that does not justify the unfair use of people’s personal information for marketing profits.
Twitter’s Attempt to be Transparent
Despite not knowing the exact number of users impacted by this incident, Twitter decided to go public with the issue and explain its source. Namely, the problem stemmed from their tailored audiences program that allows brands and businesses to target ads against their own marketing lists.
Twitter’s team noticed that the marketing lists of those brands and businesses matched Twitter users to their phone numbers and email addresses they submitted for security reasons. With that in mind, Twitter claims this whole incident was an error, confirming that they had no intention of exploiting personal data in any way.
Two-factor authentication is an important security feature used across a variety of social media networks and online platforms. It allows users to verify their identity via email or a phone number and thus make it a bit more difficult for hackers to breach their personal accounts.
Twitter is one of many social media networks that offers two-factor authentication to users who want to secure their accounts. Little did they know that 2FA could lead to massive data exploitation, unless they had a secret agenda all along.
It is also important to note that even though many users don’t mind seeing targeted ads, basing advertisements on people’s information without their consent is still considered a privacy violation punishable by financial fines.
What To Expect in the Future
Considering that this wasn’t the first time Twitter admitted to violating users’ privacy, it probably won’t be the last. They admitted to storing users’ passwords in the past, which is another form of security violation.
Besides, Twitter is not the only social media network found guilty of exploiting users’ personal data. Facebook had a similar experience back in 2018 when the Federal Trade Commission fined them with five billion dollars for using security phone numbers in advertising.
The question is, what can we expect in the future considering that even social media giants have questionable security? Users are left to protect their data on their own, as much as that is possible in today’s digital age.