Twitter Says It May Have Shared User Data With Ad Partners Without Permission

"We’re sorry this happened, and are taking steps to make sure we don’t make a mistake like this again," the company said in a blog post.

Twitter apologized this week after admitting that it may have mistakenly shared user data with third parties and used data for personalized ads without first obtaining user permission. The company explained in a Tuesday blog post that the lapse had stemmed from issues with the platform’s settings. “We fixed these issues on August 5, 2019,” Twitter said.

According to the post, Twitter users who have clicked or viewed an ad on the platform’s mobile app since May 2018 may have had certain data — such as their country code and their engagement with the ad — shared with third-party measurement and advertising partners even if they hadn’t given consent to Twitter to share such information.

Twitter said that since September 2018, some users may have also been shown ads “based on inferences we made about the devices you use, even if you did not give us permission to do so.” That data stayed within Twitter, the company said, and “did not contain things like passwords, email accounts, etc.”

Twitter said it was still conducting an investigation into its “mistake” to determine which users were affected.

The company said users could check their settings to ensure everything was in order but said, besides that, “we don’t believe there is anything for you to do.”

Twitter said it was taking steps to ensure that such a lapse would not happen again.

“You trust us to follow your choices and we failed here. We’re sorry this happened, and are taking steps to make sure we don’t make a mistake like this again,” the company said in the blog post.

Tech companies like Twitter and social media rival Facebook have faced increasing pressure in recent years to improve the ways they collect, use and share user data.

Last year, Twitter urged its more than 330 million users to change their passwords after the company discovered that a bug had caused user passwords to be stored unmasked in an internal log. In May, Twitter came under scrutiny again after saying it had inadvertently leaked iOS users’ location data to a third-party “trusted partner.”

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