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Twitter recently introduced an updated privacy policy announcing changes to how they collect user data and deliver advertising into your timeline. So what does the update mean and what should you do about it?

If you haven’t logged in to Twitter since the changes were announced, you’ll see this message:

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Read on to understand what those changes are, and then you can click Review settings to make the necessary changes.

If you’ve already dismissed the message, you can access these settings again by going to SettingsPrivacy and Safety. Scroll down to Personalization and Data and click Edit. This will take you to your Personalization and Data page.

New Personalization and Data Sharing Settings

Going to your Personalization and Data settings allows you to see (and adjust) how Twitter collects and shares your data. You can selectively enable or disable these personalization settings:

  • Personalized ads — If enabled, you will see interest-based ads on and off Twitter.
  • Personalization based on apps — Personalized ads and content based on the list of apps you have installed on your mobile devices. (Twitter can’t view data inside the apps.)
  • Personalization across devices — If enabled, Twitter can serve up ads, content, and users to follow in the mobile app based on sites you’ve visited on your laptop and vice versa. Twitter gives an example:
    • “If you visit websites with sports content on your laptop, you can use this setting to help control whether we show you sports-related ads on Twitter for Android or iOS.”
  • Personalization based on the places you’ve been — Personalized ads and content based on your current or previous locations.

You can selectively enable or disable the following data settings:

  • Track where you see Twitter content across the web — Personalized ads, content, and users to follow based on websites you visit that include Twitter content, like embedded tweets or tweet buttons. Your web browsing history will be stored by Twitter, but will not be associated with your username, name, email, or phone number.  Twitter will store this information for 30 days (compared to 10 days perviously) after which it will be deleted, aggregated, or obfuscated. Twitter users in the European Union and EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) are automatically exempted from this. Twitter gives the following example:
    • “If you regularly visit birdwatching websites, we might suggest accounts that frequently Tweet about that topic, or show you ads for binoculars or birdfeeders.”
  • Share data through select partnerships — Twitter is also asking permission to share data with partners. Twitter describes the data vaguely as “non-personal, aggregated, and device-level data.” Twitter doesn’t specify the partners, but does say that personal data you consent to share will not include your name, email, or phone number.

What You Should Do

While Twitter has earned criticism of privacy activists with these changes, and rightfully so since you’re automatically opted in to most of these settings, you can easily disable all personalization and access to your data.

Go to your Personalization settings and click the Disable All button at the top of the page.

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If Twitter already has a list of the apps on your mobile devices, the list should be removed when you disable the feature.

In addition to being able to disable all of these settings, Twitter has also made it a little easier for you to see your Twitter data that is of interest to advertisers, and which advertisers have included you in their tailored audience lists on Twitter.

There are several things you can do with this data:

  • You can request a list of the advertisers and that list will be emailed to you when it’s ready.
  • You can adjust the interests Twitter associates with your account based on your profile and activity.

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What do you think of Twitter’s new privacy and personalization settings? Are you comfortable sharing that data with advertisers? Do you think Twitter has done the right thing by giving users access to the settings or do you think they’re collecting too much information from their users? Let us know in the comments.

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