Twitter's Sorry About Using Your Phone Number For Ads

Image: Getty Images

It's now established many social media sites are using data we willingly forfeited to conduct targeted advertising.

Anyone who's had a cheeky Google search for an item only for it to miraculously pop up on your news feed will know it's frustratingly convenient and, in some cases, full-blown creepy. What's especially not cool, however, is when the data you handed over, like a phone number, is given for security purposes.

Twitter is the latest to join the club after it confirmed it was conducting targeted advertising using phone numbers provided for two-factor authentication.

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Twitter released a statement confirming it had realised phone numbers, which users provided for two-factor authentication, were "inadvertently" being used for targeted advertising. Twitter insists this was an error and it was addressed on September 17.

"We recently discovered that when you provided an email address or phone number for safety or security purposes (for example, two-factor authentication) this data may have inadvertently been used for advertising purposes, specifically in our Tailored Audiences and Partner Audiences advertising system," Twitter said in a statement.

"This was an error and we apologise.

"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. No personal data was ever shared externally with our partners or any other third parties."

Tailored Audiences and Partner Audiences are Twitter's advertising systems, which allow business to match their marketing lists with specific user accounts using the provided email addresses and phone numbers.

Image: Gizmodo Australia

Twitter explained when a user provided their number for the security feature, Tailored Audiences and Partner Audiences may have used that data inadvertently.

Gizmodo Australia has reached out to Twitter Australia to determine how many Australians were affected and how Targeted Audiences will differentiate email addresses and phone numbers which have been provided for security purposes as opposed to advertising purposes.

How do I remove myself from Tailored Audiences and Partner Audiences?

First head to your account's Settings, then click Privacy and safety. Once the side bar comes up, scroll down to Personalization and data and select it. From here, you'll get a full screen of all the data you've been opted into so deselect whichever ones you no longer want.

Image: Gizmodo Australia

If you have any questions about your data and how Twitter used it, you can fill out a Data Protection Enquiry Form to get a response from Twitter.

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