I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. While you were cooking or trying to fight the traffic and weather to get to Aunt Sally’s, Twitter was busy deciding to help themselves to your data. I kid you not. This was how they put it:
To help build a more personal Twitter experience for you, we are collecting and occasionally updating the list of apps installed on your mobile device so we can deliver tailored content that you might be interested in. If you’re not interested in a tailored experience you can adjust your preferences at any time (read below). Additionally, if you have previously opted out of interest-based ads by turning on “Limit Ad Tracking” on your iOS device or by adjusting your Android device settings to “Opt out of interest-based ads,” we will not collect your apps unless you adjust your device settings.
Generally, Twitter has been pretty good about explaining how they invade your privacy. When you think about it you probably realize that Twitter analyzes your tweets, retweets, location, and the people you follow to figure out which “Promoted Tweets” (a.k.a. ads) to show you. Hopefully you know that all those little “tweet this” buttons around the web gather information about you as well. OK, maybe it’s not exactly personally identifiable information, but I think we all know it’s not critically important for ad targeting to have your name. Knowing that you are you (a unique identifier) across devices and services means someone knows a hell of a lot more about you than you might want them to know. Adding one more bit of data – your name – is not difficult.
For example. Do you want Twitter knowing you installed a dating app? Do you want them serving ads on your timeline based on the dating app? How about ads on your phone or computer outside of the Twitter environment? It’s coming. Just as Facebook, which gathers the same data (oh, you didn’t know?) is getting to the same place.
To Twitter’s credit, the page I linked above explains how to opt out of this data theft. But why not make it opt-in? I realize that a personalized web and mobile ad experience can be better for some folks and delivers much better results for the marketer, but someone needs to take a step back before they help themselves to another serving of my personal data. It makes me sad and uncomfortable that we’re still having this discussion. You?