Twitter has disclosed more bugs related to how it uses personal data for ad targeting that means it may have shared users data with advertising partners even when a user had expressly told it not to. TechCrunch reports: Back in May the social network disclosed a bug that in certain conditions resulted in an account’s location data being shared with a Twitter ad partner, during real-time bidding (RTB) auctions. In a blog post on its Help Center about the latest “issues” Twitter says it “recently” found, it admits to finding two problems with users’ ad settings choices that mean they “may not have worked as intended.” It claims both problems were fixed on August 5. Though it does not specify when it realized it was processing user data without their consent.
The first bug relates to tracking ad conversions. This meant that if a Twitter user clicked or viewed an ad for a mobile application on the platform and subsequently interacted with the mobile app Twitter says it “may have shared certain data (e.g., country code; if you engaged with the ad and when; information about the ad, etc)” with its ad measurement and advertising partners — regardless of whether the user had agreed their personal data could be shared in this way. It suggests this leak of data has been happening since May 2018 — which is also the day when Europe’s updated privacy framework, GDPR, came into force. Twitter specifies that it does not share users’ names, Twitter handles, email or phone number with ad partners. However it does share a user’s mobile device identifier, which GDPR treats as personal data as it acts as a unique identifier. The second issue Twitter discloses in the blog post also relates to tracking users’ wider web browsing to serve them targeted ads. Here Twitter admits that, since September 2018, it may have served targeted ads that used inferences made about the user’s interests based on tracking their wider use of the Internet — even when the user had not given permission to be tracked.