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Twitter knows an awful lot about you, it reveals in new privacy policy

twitter christopher, Chris Corneschi, flickr #reasonswhyimeverontwitter

Tweet often? If so, there’s a fat chance that Twitter knows an awful lot about you, your interests and even your lofty aspirations.

This revelation comes after the company announced an upcoming revision to its privacy policy, which allows it to siphon more data about you from the web, and gives users more agency in their privacy options.

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If you’re a mobile app user, you would’ve seen a pop up notifying you about this change.

Heading to Twitter’s blog though, the company outlined a more granular point-form summary of the changes heading to the platform in the coming weeks.

In case you didn’t know, Twitter knows an awful lot about you simply by watching you interact on the social network

“As we work to make our content more relevant to people on Twitter, we also want to offer the best and most transparent privacy and data controls,” it begins.

“Today, we’re announcing a suite of industry-leading tools to give you more access to your information and greater, more granular control over how it’s used. We’ve also updated our Privacy Policy to reflect the improvements that we’ve made to Twitter.”

So what does this mean exactly? Let’s run through the things you should know.

Increased transparency: here’s what Twitter knows about you

“Increased transparency”, as Twitter’s calling it, allows users to better understand just how much Twitter thinks it knows about you, based on site usage, web browsing habits and interactions with tweets. The social network effectively studies its users’ habits, building up profiles of likes, dislikes, hobbies and other advertising-friendly information.

But while it did all of this before without you actively knowing, Twitter now shows users what info it has. It’s calling these bits of information “interests”.

“We’re expanding Your Twitter Data to give you the most transparent access to your Twitter information to date, including demographic and interest data, and advertisers that have included you in their tailored audiences on Twitter,” it elaborates.

Taking a look through my Twitter data is slightly worrying: it’s remarkably accurate.

I can only imagine what Twitter knows about Donald Trump…

Privacy controls: adjust which ads you want when and where

Users can uncheck these interests, effectively tailoring the advertising experience more acutely for your personal needs. This means that if you’re a “Cricket” fan, leaving this box checked will ensure you see relatable and potentially useful ads.

If you have an interest marked “Women’s Shoes” and don’t want to receive ads about footwear, you can uncheck that point.

Users can also edit “Interests from Partners”, which allow Twitter’s partners to “build audiences around shopping decisions, lifestyle and other online and offline behaviours”. This is effectively the info the company shares with outside companies.

The other changes

Notably, users can decide to opt out entirely of Twitter’s Personalisation and Data programme using a single switch, which will disable all personal settings for ads across devices. Although Twitter doesn’t explicitly state how ads will be delivered to these users, we imagine it should be more random, generic ads than the tailored experience.

But if you think that you can simply delete the data Twitter has on you, think again.

“You can opt out of interest-based advertising in your personalization and data settings. This will change the ads you see on Twitter, however it won’t remove you from advertisers’ audiences,” the company clarifies in the personalisation and data settings page.

You can review your personal settings (we suggest you do that ASAP), right here.

The privacy policy update comes into effect from 18 June 2017.

Feature image: Chris Corneschi via Flickr (CC 2.0, resized)

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