In a new policy, the social media site lays out how it uses your data. As EU regulations loom, expect more privacy updates from the services you use.
With lots of focus on Facebook lately, it's easy to forget about all the other tech companies that collect your data.
The policy has lots of information for users regardless of where you live, but at 4,900 words, it might be a bit much to digest. We've broken down the major issues for you here.
Sure, using Twitter is a bit like standing on a street corner with a megaphone. So it might be a bit confusing to bring up privacy when we're talking about a service that publicly disseminates your opinions, musings and silly memes.
But Twitter the company knows a lot more about you than what you broadcast publicly on its website.
Much like Facebook, the company collects information from your device that can track you from your phone to your laptop to your other laptop. It also collects information from websites you visit that include content from Twitter, regardless of whether you're logged into the service.
What's more, it collects your contact information from your friends, family, acquaintances, business contacts, or anyone else who might have your email address or phone number in their contacts. That happens when those people upload their contacts to Twitter. (Facebook does this as well.)
That all gives Twitter a rich picture of your web browsing habits, location and interests.
Twitter uses that information to show you ads it thinks will appeal to your interests.
It's part of making Twitter useful and personalized to you. The policy goes on to use the word "relevant" six times total, in reference to ads as well as the tweets you might want to see in your timeline or the people you might want to follow on Twitter.
To really make those ads effective, Twitter says it infers certain things about you based on the data it collects, including your age, language and gender.
Twitter also uses it to detect fraud and stop other kinds of abuse on its platform and to show you tweets it thinks you'll find relevant.
You're allowed to change various privacy settings in your account, letting you opt out of many of the ways Twitter uses your data. That includes interest-based advertisements, as well as letting Twitter track you across devices and use your location to tailor ads.
To control those settings, go to your account settings and select "Privacy and Safety" on the left menu. Then scroll down to "Personalization and Data" and select edit. Twitter will show you a page where you can decide which, if any, of these personalization techniques you want it to use.
That appears to include new rights afforded by the GDPR, including the idea of data portability and erasure. Data portability is the ability to request all of your data from a company, and data erasure lets you request that a company delete your data.
The new policy includes instructions for doing both. Even though the old policy, which went into effect in July, doesn't mention the terms data portability or data erasure, it does already offer ways to download your data and request it be modified or deleted.
While you'll continue to be able to make these requests when GDPR comes into effect, only EU residents will have the force of law behind the regulations, said Forrester business analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo.
"They don't have jurisdiction in the US," Khatibloo said.
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