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Technology Twitter used phone numbers for security to sell ads

23:30  09 october  2019
23:30  09 october  2019 Source:   cbsnews.com

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On Tuesday, Twitter announced that it “unintentionally” used phone numbers and email addresses for advertising purposes even though the information was provided by users for As of September 17th, phone numbers and email addresses are now only collected for security purposes, Twitter said.

New York (CNN Business) Twitter "inadvertently" used phone numbers and email addresses its users provided for account security purposes to target ads , the company said Tuesday. In July, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said Facebook had broken the law when it engaged in a similar practice.

Twitter on Tuesday disclosed that it "inadvertently" used phone numbers and email addresses users provided for security purposes to deliver targeted ads.

Cyber Security Concerns In The Global Wake of Hacking Threat© Leon Neal / Getty Images Cyber Security Concerns In The Global Wake of Hacking Threat

The social media company said information that users had provided for two-factor security authentication — additional credentials used to verify members in case of a breach — was used by advertisers to match members to their own marketing lists. Twitter did not disclose how many of its 300-million-plus users were affected.

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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," read a company release.

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Twitter Inc. said it used phone numbers and email addresses that some users uploaded for security reasons to target them with ads . Twitter offers an ad product called “tailored audiences,” which lets advertisers upload a contact list of customers that the company then matches to existing users on its

Yahoo Finance's Heidi Chung, Julia La Roche, and Ethan Wolff-Mann discuss the latest data security breach at Twitter , which used users phone numbers and email addresses to sell ads .

Twitter said it fixed the issue as of September 17. The company also said it did not share personal data with advertisers or other third parties.

Marketers are permitted to use data that social media users intentionally disclose in accounts — in the form of tweets and profile information — to deliver targeted ads in promoted tweets. But they're not supposed to have access to information used to secure accounts, according to CNET senior producer Dan Patterson.

In an interview with CBSN, Patterson described Twitter's misstep as particularly "egregious."

"Security is supposed to be 'church and state' — in a totally different bucket," Patterson said. "Connecting those two is a serious violation of security and privacy and that meant that, once again, the information you provided to protect your account was used to target you with advertisements."

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Twitter has acknowledged that user phone numbers and email addresses gathered for security purposes, as part of its two-factor authentication policy, may have been used to sell ads . It calls the move an accident. The revelation is being widely criticized for its obvious breach of user privacy

Twitter has said it used phone numbers and email addresses, provided by users to set up two-factor authentication on their accounts, to serve targeted ads . For its part, Twitter said its ad targeting was “an error” and apologized. It’s the latest in a number of security lapses at Twitter in the past year.

Information like phone numbers and email addresses can be used by advertisers to better identify users by location to deliver more precise advertisements.

Concerned social media users can download applications like Google Authenticator or Authy, which generate codes to verify accounts. A third-party company called Yubikey even manufactures physical devices that, when inserted into a computer, can generate a digital key.

However, even these options have their limits, Patterson said. "You do have alternatives," he explained, "but these alternatives are not really clear when you're using a site like Twitter or Facebook."

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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