Thursday, May 18, 2017

Twitter Now Lets Users See Who Is Advertising to Them and Why

Yesterday, Twitter released an updated privacy policy and new website settings that enable users to see who is advertising to them and why.

This new feature allows users to review what Twitter, and, in turn, advertisers, thinks their interests are. Users will be able to see how many advertisers are targeting them, and how many “audiences” (targeted groups) they are a part of – and both numbers can be well into the thousands.

The new update contains a feature to empower Twitter users to de-select what interests they don’t want to receive advertisements for, and, in the vein of transparency, users can request to be sent a list of the advertisers they are being targeted by.

Twitter, which has experienced slowed financial and user growth, should financially benefit from more targeted adverting, since more tailored advertising should lead to increased revenue for the Company. Additionally, the more personalized the user experience, the more likely that the curated tweets for any given user will be more engaging, making the Twitter experience more holistic and worthwhile for users.

So why would Twitter make this announcement and give users the option to opt-out of any tailored interest-centric advertising? Privacy.

Privacy is the counterbalance to personalization and a highly targeted online experience. The last paragraph of Twitter’s announcement yesterday read: “Privacy is built into our DNA as a company and it’s something we take an active role in promoting and advocating for across the world… Our commitment to protecting and defending your privacy will continue as we build our industry leadership on this issue.” Yes, it seems somewhat paradoxical to end a release that talks about sharing highly targeted, interest-based information with thousands of advertisers this way. But privacy remains a critical issue among users, and especially in today’s political climate, users want to have a sense of security regarding online privacy. This balance between personalization (which, to be successful, requires user data to be shared) and privacy is a critical issue that online companies and digital advertisers must continue to navigate and refine in today’s world.

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