Twitter’s Disastrous Blunder Causes ‘Accidental’ Data Disclosure

The Twitter application is seen on a phone screen
The Twitter application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Thomas White)

Twitter is currently embroiled in another controversy after issuing an apology stating that it failed to remove users' location data before sending it out to a "trusted partner." The social media company admitted its negligence in a statement posted on its homepage, followed by an apology to its users who have been affected.

Details of Twitter's statement specifically address users who own more than one Twitter account in a single iOS device. These users are at risk of having their personal info shared to a third-party, specifically those who activated the 'precise location sharing' feature for one of their Twitter accounts.

Twitter was quick to clarify that only iOS users are affected and it has since corrected the problem after having discovered the mistake. The company, however, did not give out any specifics as to the length of time from the discovery to the rectification.

To put it simply, if you use multiple Twitter accounts on one phone, your location may have been accidentally sent out to an advertiser. Even if you activated the 'precise location' feature on one account, your other accounts' locations are now possibly stored on Twitter's servers.

Twitter was supposed to delete locations from the data before sending it out to an unnamed partner during an advertising process but failed to do so. In a statement, Twitter said that although the partner did receive user locations, users have nothing to worry about as their locations have not been retained and were eventually scraped off and deleted. However, many users expressed their doubts and assumed that the location data might have been used.

The 'precise location' feature allows Twitter to deliver recommendations and ads to a user based on their location. The company continues to reassure its users that they have the situation under control so that only the city or zip code was shared and not the account IDs, Twitter handles, or exact addresses. Twitter users using the iOS platform will not be traced in any way, the company guarantees.

For now, Twitter users are left with the decision of whether to believe Twitter and its anonymous partner. The social media giant said that the blunder was caused by an iOS bug, but it has since been fixed and won't happen again.

While people are doubtful, a lot have commended of Twitter's actions, praising the company for coming forward on its own instead of waiting for them to be found out and dragged by its own users.

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