HOW TO PROTECT A PORTION OF YOUR TWITTER DATA FROM ADVERTISERS

Twitter began sharing more of your information with advertisers in April 2020. Notice came in the form of an odd notification that stated “your ability to control mobile app advertising measurements has been removed” — which meant that Twitter was now sharing data about which ads you viewed or interacted with, as well as your phone’s tracking identifier.

Previously, you could turn it off; this is no longer possible. (Unless you live in the European Union or the United Kingdom, where additional safeguards apply.)

 

While that protection has been removed, a few privacy tools remain that give you some control over how much of your data is shared with advertisers. If you’re concerned about privacy, it’s worth your time to locate and disable them.

DISABLING PERSONALIZATION OF ADVERTISEMENTS

On the “Personalization and data” page, you’ll find several advertising settings that authorise Twitter to “further personalise” your advertising by leveraging information about your “inferred identity,” location, or other factors. (Go ahead and read all of the descriptions; they’re all worthwhile.) You can enable any of these settings if you wish, but the toggle at the top of the page will disable all of them.

 

  1. If you’re using the mobile app, navigate to Settings and privacy > Privacy and security > Ads preferences and look for “Personalized ads.”
  2. Go to Settings and privacy > Privacy and security > Off-Twitter activity and look for “Personalize based on your inferred identity.”
  3. Go to Settings and privacy > Privacy and security > Location information and look for “Personalize based on places you’ve been.”
  4. Go to Settings and privacy > Privacy and security > Off-Twitter activity to locate “Allow use of where you see Twitter content across the web.”
  5. Go to Settings and privacy > Privacy and security > Data sharing with business partners and look for “Allow additional information sharing with business partners.”
  6. Go to Settings and privacy > Privacy and security > Location information and look for “Personalize based on precise location” (which is not available in the web settings).

 

There is a single page on the web called “Personalization and data” that contains all of the settings. Regrettably, that page does not appear to be accessible via the mobile app.

Therefore, while we’ll begin by discussing the settings as they appear on the web page, I’ll also explain how to access each feature on mobile. (Always begin by tapping on your personal icon in the upper left corner to access any of the mobile settings.)

VIEW YOUR TWITTER CONTENT

If you want to go a step further and see what other data Twitter has on you (and possibly delete some of it), scroll down to the bottom of the “Personalization and data” page and click on “See your Twitter data.” Examine each of these topics; you may be surprised by some of the information contained therein. Each is summarised below (along with instructions if you’re using the mobile app).

 

Account. This is all very basic information, such as your name, age range, whether or not you have a verified account, and which additional languages you speak. (I was amused to discover that Twitter believes I am a German speaker. To be fair, Twitter is acceptable.) Within the mobile application: Account settings and privacy > Account information

 

History of your account. This section is divided into two sections: a list of other accounts that have access to your account and a list of locations you’ve visited. It’s a good idea to check the former to determine whether any services have unauthorised access to your account; you can revoke permission on the Connected apps page.

If you don’t want Twitter to know where you are or where you’ve been, you can disable location access through the Location settings. Settings and privacy > Security and account access > Apps and sessions in the mobile app.

 

Apps, devices, and data. There are two sections in this section. “Apps, devices, and information” may contain some of the devices and browsers from which Twitter obtains information — assuming you allow it. This is what Twitter meant when it asked for permission to “Personalize based on your inferred identity” on the “Personalization and data page,” which is one of the permissions that can be revoked.

The second option, “Connected apps,” provides another method of accessing several of the previously mentioned pages. Additionally, you can find this information in your mobile app’s settings and privacy section, under Security and account access > Apps and sessions.

 

Activity on the account. This displays the accounts that you’ve blocked or muted. In your mobile application: Configuration and privacy > Security and privacy > Mute and block.

 

Interests and advertisement data. This is a section you’re likely to spend a lot of time in, particularly with “Interests from Twitter,” which displays all the various interests Twitter has associated with your activity. If you intend to thoroughly review this, set aside a few minutes: One of my Twitter profiles listed 742 interests, including quite a few strange ones.

As someone who has no interest in sports, I’m curious as to how Twitter determined that I’m interested in “NBA videos.”

 

The remaining two categories, “Inferred interests from partners” and “Tailored audiences,” can be disabled by visiting the “Personalization and data” page.

 

I couldn’t find anything comparable in the mobile app, but you can access it through Settings and privacy > Privacy and security > Content you see > Topics. There, you’ll see some of the topics you’ve followed and those Twitter recommends you follow.

 

Finally, “Download archive” enables you to download the history and activity logs for your account. Navigate to Settings and privacy > Your account > Download an archive of your data in your mobile app.

 

[Note: A reader (@hex on Twitter) pointed out how to access these data settings on a mobile device. Tap on your personal icon in the upper left corner of the Twitter app and navigate to “Settings and privacy” > “Privacy and security” > “Content you see” > “Topics.” A paragraph at the bottom of the screen suggests that you review “Your Twitter data.” By clicking on that link, you’ll gain access to the same topics.]

 

Want to be completely secure? You may wish to take the plunge and completely delete your Twitter history.

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