Social media has been a part of our lives for over two decades now, and it plays a big role in our social organizing. But the biggest companies have gotten too big, and with their size, comes complacency. They think they’re untouchable so they get lazy, and when companies that handle your personal information get lazy, they act irresponsibly.
Normally, this charge is levelled almost exclusively against Facebook (FB.Q), which has basically both intentionally and unintentionally sabotaged its relationship with the majority of its users, and still maintains the largest market share. But today, we’re talking about Twitter (TWTR.NYSE) and it’s recent privacy gaffe.
What did they do? Glad you asked.
“We recently discovered that when you provided an email address or phone number for safety or security purposes (for example, two-factor authentication) this data may have inadvertently been used for advertising purposes,” the company says.
Does that sound familiar? It should. It’s the same thing Facebook ended up in hot water for earlier this year.
First, let’s define some terms:
Two-Factor Identification is a method of confirming users’ identities by using a combination of two different factors based on three different contexts. The three most common are something they know (like where did I go to school?) something they have such as a bank card, or something they are—like your relationship to the system you’re trying to access.
“We cannot say with certainty how many people were impacted by this, but in an effort to be transparent, we wanted to make everyone aware. No personal data was ever shared externally with our partners or any other third parties,” Twitter says.
Isn’t that special?
Security advocate Matt Green, a cryptography professor from Johns Hopkins university, weighed in on Twitter.
As of Sept. 17, the company is no longer using that information for advertising, it says.
Still, if we’re comparing Facebook to Twitter in terms of privacy and general evil-ness, then Twitter still comes out on top. So far.
Facebook’s default privacy settings are geared towards the constant invasion of your privacy, and will often force you to share not only your data but your friends’ data to use their apps. Naturally, this data gets packaged and resold to advertisers. At least Twitter doesn’t do that. So far.
If you think about it, Facebook is downright Orwellian in terms of their ability to keep track of people. They know where you live and invite you to check in when you’re not at home. Facebook knows what you like, what you don’t like, including what music you listen too or videos you prefer to watch.
Facebook’s 2009 change to their privacy default settings allowed a substantial amount of your private information to be shared, and you have to actually go in and curate your account to avoid spilling this sensitive data out into the void.
Twitter, with this gaffe aside, only shares what you tweet, or share in your profile.
If it’s an consolation, Twitter’s down $0.20 today. Yeah. Doesn’t do much for me, either.