new twitter privacy policy going into effect!Late last month, Twitter announced that its privacy policy will be getting some major changes, effective June 18, 2017. With that date fast approaching, we thought it best to go over these changes in-depth and elaborate on how they’ll affect the average Twitter user. Read below to learn more about Twitter’s new additions to its privacy policy and how they might impact you.

How is Twitter’s privacy policy changing?

Generally speaking, Twitter’s new privacy policy aligns with a lot of its competitor’s policies, like Facebook and Google, which give users greater control over the information they share with the social media sites and their advertisers. While this change offers users more of a hands-on approach, it does come with the loss of Twitter’s Do Not Track policy, which granted Twitter status as one of the last bastions of consumer anonymity among privacy advocates. If you weren’t aware, Do Not Track is a browser setting that inhibits websites from tracking users across the Internet. Twitter was one of the first companies to pledge to respect this feature, and now it’s sadly one of the last tech titans to abandon support it. To be fair, inconsistent adoption of Do Not Track has likely made it less viable for companies like Twitter to continue supporting it. The company said as much on its website, where it described its decision to cut Do Not Track.

What are the features of Twitter’s new privacy policy?

Twitter’s privacy policy changes have three major implications for users, which include:

1. Twitter now has a more extensive advertising presence. One of the big changes coming to Twitter’s privacy policy involves the company’s collecting and sharing of device-level data. In fact, Twitter will now show you the number of devices associated with your account, which can be helpful if someone hacks into your account because you will see the unfamiliar device and know it’s time to change your password and disconnect all devices. On the downside, this information, as well as your name or email, might be shared with advertisers.

2. Twitter will store your data for longer. Twitter uses cookies to track users who interact with its widgets, even when they are not on the Twitter website or app (e.g., favoriting an embedded tweet in a news article, or tweeting a blog post from a website). While Twitter has always stored information regarding these interactions, as part of the new privacy policy, Twitter will now store the information for 30 days, as opposed to 10.

3. Users can now control how Twitter uses some data. In lieu of Do Not Track support, Twitter provides a “Personalization and Data” page, where users can determine what ads they see, where Twitter tracks them or whether or not Twitter shares user information with select advertising partners.

Why should you care about these changes?

For those of us trying to keep pace with the tech world, it can be hard to follow the number of times services go back on policies spelled out in earlier terms of service agreements. But the truth is, the fact that Twitter and many other companies telegraph major changes like this is important for consumers because it allows them to take the necessary precautions to immediately protect their metadata, identities and privacy.

How users can adjust these privacy settings

In the past month, you might have seen a pop-up on Twitter notifying you of the privacy changes. If you clicked “sounds good,” your settings were changed to Twitter’s defaults, which are fairly lackluster. The default settings opt users into sharing data with advertisers and seeing personalized ads across devices and browsers. If these are features you don’t want enabled, there is a way for you to adjust them. Keep reading as we take you through a step-by-step guide.

Navigating to the Personalization and Data page

To access your Personalization and Data settings click on your profile picture at the top right of the screen and select “Settings and privacy” from the drop-down menu. If you’re using Twitter on your phone, when you’re on your own page, you should see a gear, which leads to the same drop-down menu when you tap it.

Twitter_Privacy

Next, click on the “Privacy and safety” option that’s on the menu to the left (it’s the second option).

Twitter Privacy

On the following page, find “Personalization and Data” (it should be the sixth option on the page), then click “Edit” and adjust your settings as you please.

Twitter Privacy

If you’re using a computer and already logged into your Twitter account, you can bypass all this by using the following URL: https://twitter.com/settings/personalization.

How to adjust the Personalization and Data settings

The settings of this feature are pretty self-explanatory. Most of them revolve around personalizing the advertisements you see through Twitter’s data collection, while the last option affects what types of information advertisers receive through Twitter.

In addition, there’s a second page where you can remove some of the information that Twitter has compiled on you, called Your Twitter data. You can access it by navigating to “Setting and privacy” — from there, it’s the second to last menu item on the left side of the screen, or you can visit it directly by clicking on this URL: https://twitter.com/settings/your_twitter_data.

Once you confirm your password, the Your Twitter data page allows you to delete the number of browsers and devices Twitter associates with your account, remove “Places you’ve been” from your Twitter profile and request a list of the advertisers who might have your information.

Being in the know is an essential step toward protecting your online privacy. For more information about new tech-related developments and changes to the web platforms you use, keep reading our technology blog.