Twitter is watching you

Twitter's Promoted Content

Twitter is watching you and experimenting with your privacy.

Today, Twitter made what’s known as taylored ads available to users in the US.  This means you’ll now see promoted content from companies whose websites you’ve visited before.

For example, let’s say Joe Blow’s local hardware store wants to advertise a special this month because it’s the busy season for home repairs.

Joe Blow would rather display ads to people who’ve visited its site before so Mr. Blow gives Twitter a browser cookie ID that contains your username.  Twitter parses the cookie and matches the username to your Twitter account and then passes Joe’s tailored ad on to you as a promoted tweet.

To be fair, Kevin Weil, Senior Director of Product Revenue, did say that users can disable promoted content in their account settings but it’s still concerning that user intervention is required.

  • To protect your privacy login to your account settings
  • Uncheck Tailor Twitter based on my recent website visits
  • Uncheck Tailor ads based on information shared by ad partners
  • Scroll down, click Save Changes and you’re done.

This a sober reminder that online companies are chronically vying for our personal data.

I actually think this announcement is poorly timed since it falls between the NSA warrantless surveillance fiasco and fourth of July protests tomorrow.



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