Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Twitter Increases Ad Tracking, Now Ignores Do Not Track


As we work to make our content more relevant to people on Twitter, we also want to offer the best and most transparent privacy and data controls.

Today, we’re announcing a suite of industry-leading tools to give you more access to your information and greater, more granular control over how it’s used. We’ve also updated our Privacy Policy to reflect the improvements that we’ve made to Twitter.

With such strenuous emphasis on the ways in which this update “increases transparency” and gives users more control, it’s no surprise that the meat of this post is near the bottom: Twitter will, like Facebook, be using data gathered across the web from embedded posts and sharing buttons to increase targeting options for advertisers.

Tim Peterson, Marketing Land:

At the same time as Twitter is giving people more control over how they are targeted, it is removing support for Do Not Track, which people can use to ask every website they visit not to track their behavior in order to target them with ads. Twitter made a big deal about supporting Do Not Track in May 2012, so its reversal is a surprise — unless you’ve been following the wave of major ad-supported digital platforms opting to ignore Do Not Track requests. When Hulu announced last July that it would no longer support Do Not Track, it joined nine other major digital platforms that do not respond to these opt-out requests. Now Twitter has joined that list.

As Twitter was one of very few major websites that actually honoured browser-based Do Not Track requests, this is more of a conceptual setback. Still, I liked that Twitter did bother to ask users whether they were okay with being tracked; now, they’re just burying that confirmation in the privacy policy that nobody reads.

Like Google and Facebook, Twitter is now displaying the topics it thinks you’re interested in, how old it thinks you are, and what languages it thinks you speak — apparently, I speak Estonian and Portuguese. Twitter goes one step further and allows you to request a list of which advertisers are currently targeting your profile. As of writing, 874 advertisers have included my personal account in over two thousand of their audience lists, while 102 have for the Pixel Envy auto-posting account. I’m not sure how much can really be inferred from this information, but at least I now know that 102 advertisers — including KFC and Uber — are targeting my unmonitored robot-posting account.