Twitter has announced a new set of advanced privacy options which provide more insight into how your data is being used by the platform, and more control over such information, while they're also boosting their capacity to collect similar insights, based on your web usage.
And while the measures are largely in line with how other platforms are using such data, it's important to understand the implications of these updates - particularly for websites using embedded tweets.
First off, on the new privacy tools - as explained by Twitter:
"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. Each category of data will be clearly marked, and you will be able to view or modify this data directly."
The change provides you with improved oversight of your Twitter data profile, similar to Facebook's advanced Ad Preferences listing - though Facebook doesn't tell you how many Custom Audiences you're a part of.
Seems like a lot
Through these new data tools, you can find out what interests Twitter has pegged you with, and remove any that are not relevant, which will help ensure the content targeted to you is better suited, and ensure that advertisers using Twitter are able to reach a more engaged audience.
Based on my listing, their matches seem pretty accurate too - I removed a couple after taking this screenshot, but overall, it's a fair indicator of my interests, and the ones that weren't quite right were based on my interactions with friends who are into those subjects.
As noted, it's a good way for Twitter to improve the accuracy of their data and refine the focus of their ad products - not everyone's going to utilize the option, but even if only a small percentage of users do, that'll still help them better model their data going forward.
Twitter's also offering users more control over exactly how their data is being used, with new Personalization and Data settings that provide more granular control over data usage - including, importantly, how they personalize your Twitter experience and how your information is shared through certain partnerships.
"You can use these controls to better personalize your experience on Twitter and opt out of various types of data usage and sharing with a single switch."
The new controls also allow for more device-specific customization which can be attributed to your web connection.
"For 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."
In addition to this, Twitter's also working to better personalize your on-platform experience and the content shown in your feed by expanding their data resourcing based on websites that integrate Twitter content - like embedded tweets.
For instance, if you visit a website that's integrated with Twitter (through something like embedded tweets), Twitter can track that activity and then attribute it to your profile. So if you visit sports pages but don't look up sports content on their platform or follow sports profiles, Twitter might still show you ads based on your wider web activity.
For this, Twitter has also sent an update to developers and website owners who do integrate tweet content, noting that they may need to revise their documentation to clarify this data usage.
"If you use embedded Tweets or embedded timelines on your sites, you must provide your users with notice that fully discloses Twitter's collection and use of data about users' browsing activities on your website, including for interest-based advertising and personalization. You must also obtain legally sufficient consent from users for such collection and use, and provide legally sufficient instructions on how users can opt out of Twitter's interest-based advertising and personalization."
This is an important note as there's a heap of pages that use embedded tweets (including us). This is definitely as aspect worth further investigation to ensure you're abiding by such requirements.
Twitter also clearly notes that they don't store web page visit data for users who are in the European Union and EFTA States, while they also adhere to the Digital Advertising Alliance's Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising.
Basically, Twitter's giving you more control over your data, but at the same time, they're going to start using more of it. If you don't like their expanded data usage, you now have more ways than ever to control such access. So you can't really complain. At least, that seems like the approach.
To cement the new changes, you're going to see a note like this on your Twitter home screen sometime soon.
You click on 'Sounds good' or you keep using Twitter, and you essentially agree to the new terms.
As noted, generally, the changes are not much different from those already being utilized by other networks, and they won't likely lead to any significant difference on an individual level, other than you being served more relevant ads, but it's worth reviewing each element if you have any concerns and clarifying your privacy settings to ensure you're comfortable with such use.
The other element these changes will better facilitate is Twitter's use of advanced machine learning and data matching to show you more relevant tweet content, efforts which are already yielding positive results for the network.
Having access to more data sources will enable them to continue to refine and improve each users' experience, aligning better with your habits and interests based on a wider range of reference points.
This is a big focus for Twitter, and these new measures will enable them to take the next steps. But it is worth taking the time to understand each element and how your data is being used for such purpose.