What You Should Know About Twitter’s New Privacy Policy

We looked at their 2020 Privacy Policy so you don’t have to

This week, Twitter dropped its new Privacy Policy for 2020. To spare you from having to parse the fudgy legalspeak, we’ve done it for you. Here are the biggest takeaways from the new policy. 

Twitter data is sold for access

Twitter provides access to limited quantities of its content for free. For “large-scale” access, it’ll charge a licensing fee. This language is found in the same section where it covers basic public information, such as tweet content, retweets, and likes, so it’s unclear whether this access also covers your personal information as well.

Your contact info and address book are up for grabs

Twitter claims it uses your contact info and address book—if you sync it with them—for authentication, security, and content purposes. How someone’s address book is used to “better recommend content to you and others” is unclear. Just as likely, that information will be used for advertising purposes.

Your direct messages aren’t private

Twitter stores and processes communications and related info in Direct Messages. It will scan links for malicious content, spam, prohibited images, and to review reported issues.

While Twitter claims the DMs won’t be used to serve ads, information such as who you’re messaging with and when is used to serve more relevant content.

Twitter collects a lot data for personalization, marketing, and advertising purposes

Across the policy, Twitter covers various ways it collects your data, including:

  • Your location
  • What you click on across multiple services (including emails and websites with Twitter content in it)
  • Cookies and your IP address, if you clicked on a Twitter ad
  • Session and persistent cookies to track interactions (if your browser or device allows it)
  • Your log data. This is an encompassing term that includes IP address, browser type, operating system, referring web page, pages visited, location mobile carrier, device information (like device and application ID), search terms, and cookie information.

Twitter will share your info with affiliates

The company will share the following data with ad partners and affiliates: Browser cookie IDs, Mobile Device IDs, hashed email addresses, demographic data, what content was viewed, what “actions” were taken on an app, device and user characteristics

Third-parties give Twitter a lot of data

According to the new Privacy Policy, any third-party service or website that has any Twitter content on it can collect your log data, even if you don’t have a Twitter account. There’s no way to opt-out.

Advertisers also share information with Twitter, just as Twitter shares with them. Twitter also collects information from other Twitter users, Twitter’s partners, ad affiliates, and corporate affiliates. None of these partners or affiliates are named in the Policy.

Logged out? Twitter still knows you

Twitter can associate your account with browsers and devices you use even if you’ve logged out of Twitter on those browsers and devices. They will also infer other information about you, associating your accounts to their records of email addresses with your personal data in order to identify you. They do this, they claim, to “personalize” their services.

To find your Twitter data, even if you’re logged out, follow the instructions found here.

Twitter will share your data with the government

Like many companies, Twitter makes it clear it will “comply with a law, regulation, legal process, or governmental request” and share personal data. It doesn’t mention whether it will make this disclosure public or inform impacted users.

Twitter can change its policy whenever it wants

The freedom to pivot is something all companies hold dear. Twitter can change its privacy policy whenever it wants. If it feels the change is significant, it will notify users via a user’s Twitter account or email.

Our recommendation? Change your settings.

Twitter collects and shares a lot of personal data, even if you’ve never created an account. If you are a Twitter user, you can do something about that.

We recommend going into your personalization, data, and privacy settings and toggling a few of the options. Everyone will have a different level of tolerance given how they use Twitter and whether or not they find the personalization and tailored ad experience helpful.

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

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