Twitter admits to ad tech leaks
Twitter disclosed more bugs in relation to their use of users’ data.
The social platform fesses up to having used users’ personal data for ad targeting to their ad partners without seeking users’ permission.
Twitter disclosed last May, the presence of bugs that were able to hack an account’s location data and share it with Twitter ad partners in real-time bidding auctions. The problem was addressed and fixed on August 5th however, no further information was given as to when the network realized the leak.
The May bug
This particular bug relates to tracking ad and conversions. When a user clicks or views an ad for a mobile application using their Twitter mobile app then Twitter may have shared data including country code to their advertising partners regardless of whether you agreed to have your personal data shared or not.
This leak has been occurring since May of 2018, the same day Europe updated their privacy framework and the GDPR came into effect. The regulation mandated the disclosure of data breaches and imposition of fines for companies that violated data protection.
Twitter said that they do not share user’s names, email and phone numbers, and Twitter handles with their ad partners. However, they have admitted to sharing users’ mobile device identifier to ad partners. Twitter and their ad partner can use this identifier to link a device identifier to other identity-linked personal data to track the users’ Internet use. This allows for ad targeting and profiling to become possible.
The second issue also pertains to tracking users’ web browsing to serve them targeted ads.
In a blog post, Twitter said that they just recently discovered the issues. In the blog, they admitted having found two problems regarding their users’ ad settings. Twitter said that they are conducting an investigation to determine the scope of the impact. More information will be released to the users once the result of the investigation is out.
For users, Twitter suggested that you check your settings. They promised that the leak will not happen again. The problem is that the users’ privacy choices are easily overridden by Twitter. Many have expressed disapproval with the leak and are seeking local data protection.