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Twitter wants to know your birthday so it can shower you with balloons and ads

Twitter wants to know when your birthday is, so it can shower you with animated balloons (yay!), and better target you with ads (boo!). The social network today introduced the option for users to set their birthdate in its settings menu and have it appear on their profile. Twitter says the new feature will allow people to celebrate your birthday more effectively, sending you all-important #HBD tweets to commemorate the anniversary of your existence, but its introduction also has a less altruistic side — it will help the social network work out which ads it thinks you want to see.

Last week Twitter introduced new audience insights for brands that allowed them to choose groups of users — including millennials, seniors, college grads — at which to target their ads. To work out which categories users fall into, Twitter could either do careful analysis, trying to work out what they tweet about, who they interact with, and their topics of interest. Or it could simply ask them when they are born.

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Twitter says it will use your birthday to target you with more relevant ads

Users who do fill out their birthdays can choose who sees the information, making the date either public, open to followers, or restricted to themselves only. But no matter the privacy level you set, Twitter will use the information for marketing purposes: a note in its support database confirms that the social network will use your birthday "to show you more relevant content, including ads." By filling out your date of birth, you're not only getting a screen full of balloons and more timely congratulatory tweets, but you're making yourself an easier target for marketing.