Commentary

Amid Gaffes, Twitter Takes Proactive Privacy Position

Still recovering from a recent privacy gaffe, Twitter is taking a more proactive position on transparency and protecting user information.

Per a new update to its privacy policy, for example, Twitter is trying to make it easier for users to understand what data it shares with advertisers.

The company is also launching a “Privacy Center,” which will serve as a hub for all of its privacy- and data protection-related efforts.

While Twitter has so far managed to avoid a privacy blunder of Cambridge Analytica-like proportions, the platform has had its fair share of slip-ups.

In October, for example, the company admitted that it mistakenly used data intended for security purposes to target advertising to users.

The Justice Department also recently accused two ex-Twitter employees of gathering private user information on behalf of the Saudi Arabia government.

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Without addressing these specific cases, Twitter executives admit that the company could do a better job of protecting user information.

“Let’s be honest, we have room for improvement,” Damien Kieran and Kayvon Beykpour, data protection officer and product lead, respectively, acknowledge in a new blog post.

Internally, Twitter has also taken a number of measures to reduce the likelihood of privacy mishaps.

On a quarterly basis, Kieran now provides an independent assessment of all privacy and data protection-related work to the company’s board.

Twitter is also continuing to invest in its Data Management Organization to ensure that it always account for user data, how it’s used, and when it’s shared.

These efforts come amid a backdrop of looming privacy regulation and antitrust complaints, which might eventually leave Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks looking like fundamentally different companies.
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