Twitter Privacy Center

January 11, 2023

Update about an alleged incident regarding Twitter user data being sold online

We take our responsibility to protect your privacy very seriously. In response to recent media reports of Twitter users' data being sold online, we conducted a thorough investigation and there is no evidence that data recently being sold was obtained by exploiting a vulnerability of Twitter systems. We also want to share an update about an incident that took place earlier this year, and provide transparency into the steps we took to remediate it.

What happened

As we previously informed users in August 2022, in January 2022 we received a report through our bug bounty program of a vulnerability in Twitter's systems. As a result of the vulnerability, if someone submitted an email address or phone number to Twitter’s systems, Twitter's systems would tell the person what Twitter account the submitted email addresses or phone number was associated with, if any. This bug resulted from an update to our code in June 2021. When we learned about this, we immediately investigated and fixed it. 

In July 2022, we learned through a press report that someone had potentially leveraged this and was offering to sell the information they had compiled. After reviewing a sample of the available data for sale, we confirmed that a bad actor had taken advantage of the issue before it was addressed. At the time, we notified the affected users promptly and the relevant authorities.

In November 2022, some press reports published that Twitter users' data had been allegedly leaked online. As soon as we became aware of the news, Twitter’s Incident Response Team compared the data in the new report to data reported by the media on 21 July 2022. The comparison determined that the exposed data was the same in both cases. 

In December 2022, additional press reports published that someone claimed that they have access to over 400 million Twitter-associated user emails and phone numbers, and that the data had been exposed through the same vulnerability discovered in January 2022. Recently, in January 2023, a similar attempt to sell data from 200 million Twitter-associated accounts was reported in the media.  

After a comprehensive investigation, our Incident Response and Privacy and Data Protection teams concluded that: 

  • 5.4 million user accounts reported in November were found to be the same as those exposed in August 2022.
  • 400 million instances of user data in the second alleged breach could not be correlated with the previously reported incident, nor with any new incident.
  • 200 million dataset could not be correlated with the previously reported incident or any data originating from an exploitation of Twitter systems.
  • Both datasets were the same, though the second one had the duplicated entries removed.
  • None of the datasets analyzed contained passwords or information that could lead to passwords being compromised.

Therefore, based on information and intel analyzed to investigate the issue, there is no evidence that the data being sold online was obtained by exploiting a vulnerability of Twitter systems. The data is likely a collection of data already publicly available online through different sources. 

We are in contact with Data Protection Authorities and other relevant regulators from different countries to provide clarification about the alleged incidents, and we will continue to do so. 

Twitter will continue to monitor reports about incidents and will provide updates accordingly.

How to Protect Your Account

While no passwords were exposed, we encourage everyone who uses Twitter to enable 2-factor authentication using authentication apps or hardware security keys to protect your account from unauthorized logins. If you’re concerned about the safety of your account, or have any questions about how we protect your personal information, you can reach out to our Office of Data protection through this form.

We also encourage Twitter users to remain extra vigilant when receiving any kind of communications over email, as threat actors may leverage the leaked information to create very effective phishing campaigns. Be wary of emails conveying a sense of urgency and emails requesting your private information, always double check that emails are coming from a legitimate Twitter source.

To learn more about reporting a security vulnerability, visit our Help Center. To learn more about our efforts to protect Twitter from platform manipulation and state-backed activity, visit the Twitter Transparency Report.