Twitter has been forced to apologise after it emerged that phone numbers and email addresses intended for two-factor authentication may have been used for targeted advertising as well.
The company says that this was a mistake rather than intentional, though the result for users is the same. Marketers using the platform to advertise products and services use their own marketing lists and Twitter may have matched people from those lists based on phone numbers and email addresses that were supposed to be exclusively used for security. “This was an error and we apologise,” the site wrote.
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“We cannot say with certainty how many people were impacted by this, but in an effort to be transparent, we wanted to make everyone aware,” the company continued. “No personal data was ever shared externally with our partners or any other third parties.
“We’re very sorry this happened and are taking steps to make sure we don’t make a mistake like this again.”
The company adds that the problem was resolved as of September 17, but it only drew attention to the post explaining the issue in a tweet sent last night. Twitter says that anybody with any questions can contact the company’s Office of Data Protection using this form.
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While it’s good that Twitter has come clean about this and resolved the problem, that may not be the end of it. Just over a year ago, it emerged that Facebook had been using 2FA numbers for advertising, and that was eventually part of the company’s $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). While that figure also included all the Cambridge Analytica damage, Twitter might also be expecting a call from the regulators – and it has significantly less money than Facebook to deal with such turbulence.
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