Twitter unveiled a new set of privacy and data controls today that allow users to see and control how advertisers target them on the platform. The company explains in a blog post that it’s expanding individual access “to give you the most transparent access to your Twitter information to date, including demographic and interest data, and advertisers that have included you in their tailored audiences on Twitter. Each category of data will be clearly marked, and you will be able to view or modify this data directly.”
The update appears to be rolling out to users now, though it might not be fully available for every Twitter member yet. Here’s the good news. Once you have access to the system, it will allow you to turn a lot of the advertisement targeting off.
To access the page, you’ll first want to head to the “Your Twitter data” tab, located under Settings. The page includes some basic info like your username, the exact date and time you created your account, and devices you’ve logged in with. If you’re concerned about security, it’s a good page to bookmark: it allows you to see the time, date, device, and IP location of your last 50 logins, as well as which specific locations Twitter uses to show you relevant content.
Anyway, back to the ad targeting. If you keep scrolling through this page, you’ll find the “interests” section. In my case, Twitter lists 69 (nice) interests for me, and zero interests from partners (...).
According to Twitter, your interests are based on profile activity. Mine include categories such as “cartoons,” “console gaming,” “politics,” and “cute,” presumably because it knows that I spend most of my time on Twitter being yelled at by gamers and drowning my existential dread with pictures of adorable animals. You can remove interests, though the feature won’t allow you to add any.
If you want to opt out of targeted ads, head to the “Interests from partners” section. You can turn off this feature in a few ways. First, go to “personalization and data” and deselect any options to receive personalized ads. There are a few to choose from: apps, location, web browsing history. Opt out as you see fit.
You’ll also want to deselect the “share data through select partnerships” option. Twitter notes that while this will affect which ads you see on your stream, it won't remove you from advertisers' audiences. You can request a list of which advertisers have your Twitter handle on their own marketing lists by visiting the link under "Tailored audiences."
On its support page, Twitter explains you may also opt out of interest-based advertising via Digital Advertising Alliance’s consumer choice tool, as well as enable the “Limit Ad Tracking” or “Opt out of Ads Personalization” setting on your phone.
Congratulations! You have ever-so-slightly loosened yourself from the grip of capitalism. At least on Twitter.