Twitter has been inadvertently collecting location data of some of its users and passing it on to one of its partners to target advertising.

The social media network notified affected consumers this morning and apologised for the bug which impacted users who have multiple Twitter accounts linked to their iOS device.

Which-50 understands the problem was identified during an internal audit.

The company said, “If you used more than one account on Twitter for iOS and opted into using the precise location feature in one account, we may have accidentally collected location data when you were using any other account(s) on that same device for which you had not turned on the precise location feature.”

Twitter notified users of the bug this morning.

The location data was “fuzzed” meaning it was within a 5km area of the user’s actual location rather than showing precise locations or movements.

The data was then inadvertently shared with a partner to enable an advertising process known as real-time bidding.

The company says it has fixed the error and taken steps to ensure it can’t happen again. Twitter handles or other unique account IDs were not shared.

“We’ve confirmed with our partner that the location data has not been retained, that it only existed in their systems for a short time, and was then deleted as part of the normal process,” the company told users.

While not a serious data breach, the unauthorised data collection draws attention to the practice of data collection and trading which allows advertisers to target consumers based on specific attributes, behaviours or location.

Twitter told affected users: “We’re sorry this happened and while there’s nothing for you to do, you place your trust in us, and we think it’s important to respect that by acknowledging when we make a mistake.”

 

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