At Re:publica 2015, our Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen told the main stage crowd that the world’s top scientists are now focused on the delivery of ads. “I think this is sad,” he said.
To give the audience a sense of how much Twitter knows about its users, he showed them the remarkable targeting the microblogging service offers its advertisers. If you use the site, you may be served promoted tweets based on the following:
1. What breakfast cereal you eat.
2. The alcohol you drink.
3. Your income.
4. If you suffer from allergies.
5. If you’re expecting a child.
And that’s just the beginning. You can be targeted based not only on your recent device purchases but things you may be in the market for, like a new house or a new car. You can see all the targeting offered by logging into your Twitter, going to the top right corner of the interface, clicking on your icon and selecting “Twitter Ads”.
Can Twitter learn all this just based on your tweets and which accounts follow?
No, Mikko said. “They buy this information from real world shops, from credit card companies, and from frequent buyer clubs.”
Twitter then connects this information to you based on… your phone number. And you’ve agreed to have this happen to you because you read and memorized the nearly 7,000 words in its Terms and Conditions. Because everyone reads the terms and conditions.
Full disclosure: We do occasionally promote tweets on Twitter to promote or digital freedom message and tools like Freedome that block ad trackers. It’s an effective tool and we find the irony rich.
Part of our mission is to make it clear that there’s no such thing as “free” on the internet. If you aren’t paying a price, you are the product. Aral Balkan compares social networks to a creepy uncle” that pays the bills by listening to as many of your conversations as they can then selling what they’ve heard to its actual customers.
And with the world’s top minds dedicated to monetizing your attention, we just think you should be as aware of advertisers as they are as of you. Most of the top URLs in the world are actually trackers that you never access directly. To get a sense of what advertisers learn every time you click check out our new Privacy Checker.
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March 22, 2018