Twitter says it mistakenly used phone numbers for ads

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Twitter said Tuesday that it may have mishandled an unspecified number of users' email addresses and phone numbers, allowing that data to be used "inadvertently" for advertising purposes.

Adding to Twitter's potential troubles, the company finalized an agreement with the FTC in 2011 that alleged the company failed to protect users from security threats.

"We can not say with certainty how many people were impacted by this, but in an effort to be transparent, we wanted to make everyone aware", the company said in a short statement posted on its website.

Twitter says it was just an accident that caused the microblogging giant to let advertisers use private information to better target their marketing materials at users.

"Tailored Audiences is a version of an industry-standard product that allows advertisers to target ads to customers based on the advertiser's own marketing lists (e.g. email addresses or phone numbers they have compiled)".

You can give Twitter your phone number for protections like two-factor authentication, which is supposed to make it harder for hackers to access your account - even if they steal your username and password, they can't take over your account unless they also have your phone number. It's also "taking steps" to ensure this doesn't happen again.

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Gizmodo Australia has reached out to Twitter Australia to determine how many Australians were affected and how Targeted Audiences will differentiate email addresses and phone numbers which have been provided for security purposes as opposed to advertising purposes.

The company said this was "an error" and that the information should not have been used for ad targeting.

Social networking site Twitter disclosed today that it used phone numbers users provided for two-factor authentication (2FA), along with email addresses, to show targeted ads.

Meanwhile, Partner Audiences provides those same features to advertisers, but the lists are created by third parties.

Hopefully, Twitter has learned from this mistake and will not allow it to happen again. People have added secondary email addresses and their phone numbers to help secure their accounts.

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