Twitter has disclosed that it unknowingly used user credentials like phone numbers and e-mails for targeted advertising.
The statement was made in an official blog-post released on Tuesday, 8 October. The social media site confessed that the phone numbers and e-mails its users extended for security purposes such as 2-factor authentication were found being used “inadvertently” for ads.
Twitter holds that the culprits are their Tailored Advertising and Partner Audiences systems, which were set in place to facilitate targeted advertising on the site.
Tailored Audience is a system through which advertisers can use their own marketing lists made up of credentials such as phone numbers, e-mail addresses, or @handles to target ads at specific users. In other words, the data belongs to the advertiser in question, instead of a third party.
On the other hand, Partner Audiences makes the use of data from third-party services to compile marketing lists.
At the moment, Twitter is unsure about the number of users affected by this slip-up.
How Twitter Ads Really Work
Twitter is reportedly having over 321 million monthly active users, However, from Q2 2019, the social media platform has stopped reporting the total number of its active user base. Instead, it disclosed only the monetisable active users – which makes more sense for advertisers. Twitter’s average monetizable daily active user base was 139 million by the end of Q2 2019, up 5 million sequentially and up 14% compared with 122 million in the same period a year ago
Twitter has maintained considerable transparency about how it advertises and the way advertisements reach an audience. Despite this, some might still feel uneasy about the full scope of methods used to pin down an audience.
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