A new update today from Twitter allows users to look at the information that’s been gathered about them by Twitter and by “partner” advertisers. Not only can you view this information but you can edit it as well. If you don’t like a category you’ve been placed in, you can simply uncheck that option and opt out of the advertising for that topic. I took it for a spin and was surprised at a few of the assumptions that were made.
First of all, I was on the list for pretty much every type of food. Packaged food, fresh food, deli meats, non-dairy milk, and the list goes on and on. Apparently I’m an eater. I was also labeled the mother of 3+ children. It’s half right. I’m the FATHER of four kids. Obviously I am being targeted for minivans and pick up trucks and family vacation packages. It was even pretty spot on with my annual income. Kind of crazy, really.
Here’s how you can check out your Twitter ad data for yourself:
What Parents Should Know
It’s pretty safe to assume that if Twitter has this information about you then your other social media platforms have the same information or even more. This info can be helpful to us because it helps connect us with the products we want or need. It can be troublesome, though, to think about all of the data that’s been gathered about us and especially our kids. I recommend you use this new feature as a tool. If you have a Twitter account then use the steps above to go check out your ad data and learn about what you reveal about yourself with your online behavior. Then, talk to your kids about what you’ve found. If your kids have a Twitter account then you should have them go take a look at their information as well. Then have a conversation with them about how they represent themselves online and what this date means in real life. Here are a few talking points.
- Advertisers track information from all of your internet activity. Not just what you post on social media.
- When you click “I Accept” on any Terms and Agreements for a website or social service you’re agreeing to allow them to have this advertising information.
- Since this advertising info is being collected you should keep that in mind while you surf the internet. Remembering that info is being saved could help you think twice about unhealthy internet habits.
Using a tool as vast as the internet has its tradeoffs. You’re going to have to give a little in order to get the benefits that the world wide web has to offer. In this case, twitter is allowing you to see a bit of what you’re paying. Thankfully, they’ve also given you a bit of control. Being able to turn off advertising options for different topics is a cool feature that I hope will show up on more social media services. In the mean time, remember to keep talking to your kids about how they use the internet and be sure to be a good example yourself.