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Twitter apologizes for personal data misuse with timeline alert

If you saw an alert from Twitter in your timeline today about its use of “use of your personal information for tailored advertising,” you don’t necessarily need to panic. But the alert links to a statement from the app that is definitely worth reading.

The alert from Twitter is appearing within your timeline — we saw it this morning via the desktop web version of Twitter. The timeline alert is a notice that Twitter “may have served you targeted ads based on an email address or phone number you provided to us to secure your account.

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Twitter's personal data timeline alert to its users.

This alert then links to a Twitter Help Center article that reads like an apology statement from the bird app itself.

The issue that the alert is referring to is the fact that recently Twitter reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its gathering and use of Twitter users’ email addresses and phone numbers for targeted advertising. As today’s timeline alert notes, that personal information was provided by users to help secure their accounts, but Twitter also used it to serve targeted ads, without users’ knowledge.

Selecting the Learn More button in the timeline alert opens a link to Twitter’s Help Center article on the subject in which the bird app explained the timeline of events that led to the settlement with the FTC. In the statement, Twitter says that the personal info was used in targeted ads until September 2019 and then said since then that they “are no longer using phone numbers or email addresses collected for safety or security purposes for advertising.

Twitter also mentioned that users’ phone numbers and email addresses were not shared with advertisers and that users don’t need to do anything with respect to this issue.

The statement ended with an apology to users and offered a link to a form to contact Twitter’s Office of Data Protection with any questions or comments about its use of personal data.

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