Are Targeted Ads More Important for Twitter than Protection of User Data?

Are Targeted Ads More Important for Twitter than Protection of User Data? 

After the $170 million worth fine levied by the Federal Trade Commission on Google for violating children’s privacy law, its Twitter’s turn now. Twitter has admitted to misusing the email addresses and phone number of the app users in order to enable targeted ads.

In a recent statement released, Twitter announced the move to be “unintentional”. The social media giant said that various third- party marketers may have been able to reach specific users on Twitter based on the contact details submitted on their Twitter account.

Twitter affirmed that they are not sure about how many people were affected by the usage of personal data for targeted ads. To the utter surprise of their users, the firm did not inform the customers on a one on one basis about the mistake committed rather leaked out a statement on its website.

There have been no revelations as to when the firm had discovered the breach, but admitted to having solved the issue by September 17. 

Twitter apologised saying that the personal data might have been used for tailored audiences and partner audiences advertising system. In case of tailored audiences, the advertiser can send targeted ads to customers based on their own compiled customer data. Partner Audiences, however, enable the advertisers to use the same features to target ads to audiences provided by third-party partners.

As per Twitter, the target list of an advertiser might have been matched by Twitter users who have provided their personal data in the account.

Apologising for the breach, Twitter said, “We’re very sorry this happened and are taking steps to make sure we don’t make a mistake like this again.”

At a time when the social media industry is under great pressure to handle data protection issues, mistakes like these reduce the credibility of a site. Previously, in August, Twitter was blamed for inadvertently using user data to personalise adverts. Without having any permission, Twitter showed ads based on inferences.

Regulators such as the Federal Trade Commission have grown intolerant because of the increasing mishaps in digital privacy. As per reports, the commission fined Facebook $5bn for mishandling user data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The fine was a huge blow for Facebook as it will affect the balance sheet of 2019. 

Earlier in September, FTC had blamed Google for marketing its video platform, YouTube to advertisers for promoting targeted ads as many of its channels were popular among younger audiences.

The breach of trust by such huge companies surely comes as a great shock to users who rely on them for keeping their data safe, especially at a time when crime is increasing at an alarming rate every day.

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