What Twitter's Privacy Changes Mean for You | NBC 10 Philadelphia

What Twitter's Privacy Changes Mean for You

With the changes, Twitter expands the pool of people it can track and lets the company collect more data about those people when they are visiting sites around the web

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    AP Photo/Matt Rourke
    This Wednesday, April 26, 2017, photo shows the Twitter icon on a mobile phone, in Philadelphia. On Thursday, May 18, 2017, Twitter announced that it is updating its privacy policy so it can track users’ interests better and target advertisements to them, at least in the United States. Along with this, Twitter is also rolling out more granular controls so users can decide, to an extent, whether and how they want to be tracked and targeted. The move comes as the company reels from its first quarterly revenue drop since going public.

    Twitter's new privacy policy suggests ambitions of becoming more like Facebook — more tracking of users and more targeting of ads to rake in more money.

    Twitter recently reported its first quarterly revenue decline since going public. That should give you some clues about the reasons behind the policy changes, which take effect June 18.

    22 Dead in Explosion at Grande Concert

    [NATL] 22 Dead in Explosion at Grande Concert

    British police said an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena killed 22 people, including children, and injured more than 50. 

    (Published Tuesday, May 23, 2017)

    WHAT'S CHANGING?
    Twitter was already tracking users. For example, if you visited a webpage that had an embedded tweet or a button to share something on Twitter, you could be tracked and targeted.

    With the changes, Twitter expands the pool of people it can track and lets the company collect more data about those people when they are visiting sites around the web, said Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum, an industry-backed think tank in Washington.

    For example, the company will now keep data about users' web activities for 30 days instead of 10, which allows it to create more comprehensive profiles of people.

    In addition, Twitter will no longer honor the "Do Not Track" option that let people say no to being tracked by the likes of ad and social networks. Many such networks no longer honor that option anyway. Polonetsky said Twitter had been "one of the rare prominent brands that respected Do Not Track."

    WATCH: Pippa Middleton Post-Wedding Kiss

    [NATL] WATCH: Pippa Middleton Post-Wedding Kiss

    Pippa Middleton and James Matthews kiss after their wedding at St Mark's Church in Englefield, England, on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Middleton, the sister of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, married hedge fund manager James Matthews in a ceremony Saturday. Her niece and nephew, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, were in the wedding party, along with sister Kate and princes Harry and William.

    (Published Saturday, May 20, 2017)

    WHY IS TWITTER DOING THIS?
    The short answer is money. A longer answer? Targeted ads that are tailored to your whims and tastes are more lucrative than generic ones. That's the selling point of online advertising, and the reason why companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter offer their services for free. The implied understanding is that they will make money off you by showing you ads.

    Research firm eMarketer expects worldwide digital ad spending to hit $224 billion this year. Google and Facebook will command a combined $110 billion of this. Twitter, though, is estimated to get just $2.3 billion, or about 1 percent. Twitter's investors are hungry for a larger slice of the pie.

    IS THIS BAD FOR YOU?
    That depends on whom you ask. Twitter, of course, is giving the impression that it's a good thing, or at least not something many users will care about. In a pop-up notification telling users of the change, Twitter chirps that you will "soon start to see more relevant Tweets and ads based on your visits to sites with Twitter content." It says that the tailored ads you already see will improve and that "we've given you even more control" over your data.

    Your next option is to click a highlighted "sounds good" box, or choose "review settings," which appears in less prominent type underneath. Sounds good? Not to privacy advocates.

    The 'Greatest Show on Earth' Says Goodbye

    [NATL-NY] The 'Greatest Show on Earth' Says Goodbye

    The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus that has wowed crowds for 146 years with its "Greatest Show on Earth" is taking its final bow on Sunday.

    (Published Sunday, May 21, 2017)

    "Twitter's announcement is bad news for online privacy. The company dropped Do Not Track and gave advertisers access to more user data," said Marc Rotenberg, president of the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center. "Also, all of the settings now default to disclosure, which means users have to go in and change their privacy settings."

    YOUR OPTIONS
    If you are in the U.S., move to Europe. Besides achieving your dreams of finally living in a tiny flat in Paris with a stray cat named Gaston and a mustached baker named Olivier, you will also have stronger online privacy protections.

    Twitter will store data about your web activities for 30 days now instead of 10, but it won't do this for users in the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), because it's prohibited.

    Barring that, go to http://twitter.com/personalization on a browser; from an app, click the settings wheel from your profile, then choose "Settings" and "Privacy and safety." You can go through the permissions piece by piece and decide, for example, whether to turn off personalize ads (but still get non-targeted ads).

    Or, you can disable all, prompting a warning that "Turning this off may make the Tweets and ads you see less relevant."

    Is that what you really want? Click "Yes, I'm sure" and that's that.