If You Care About Privacy, You Should Change Your Twitter Settings Right Now

 

By Sarah Cronin

Since Wednesday, Twitter has been sending out emails and notifications to its over 300 million monthly users to inform them of changes to their privacy policy.

The new policy, which goes into effect on June 18, includes changes to data collection, data sharing, and digital advertising. The policy is being run on an ‘opt-out’ basis, meaning that if users do not actively change their settings, these policies will automatically be applied to their accounts.

While Twitter hailed the new policy in their mass email sent out Sunday as one that “dovetails with our heartbeat as a company — a commitment to protecting and defending your privacy,” groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are not so enthusiastic.

EFF, along with Life Hacker and CNET, are encouraging users to customize their privacy settings now before the new changes are automatically enabled in June.“Contrary to the inviting ‘Sounds good’ button to accept the new policy and get to tweeting, the changes Twitter has made around user tracking and data personalization do not sound good for user privacy,” EFF researcher Gennie Gebhart writes.

With the new policy, Twitter will be keeping logs for users’ web histories for 30 days instead of 10, a move that Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum, says expands the pool of people it can track and allows Twitter to make more comprehensive profiles of users.

Interestingly, this change will not apply to E.U. member countries because Europe’s restrictive privacy laws prohibit it.

Twitter also discontinued support for the Do Not Track browser option, which previously allowed users to protect against targeted advertising.

The reason for the change, saysTopTechNews.com writer, Barbara Ortutay, is therefore clearly not about privacy, but money.

“Targeted ads that are tailored to your whims and tastes are more lucrative than generic ones,” Ortutay writes.

Whether for privacy or profit, the changes are coming. Fortunately, it’s up to users to change their settings and decide how much they want to share.

CNET offers this simple how-to: “Open Settings and go to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Personalization and data. At the top of this page is an option to disable all personalization and data settings; on the Twitter website, click the Disable all.

EFF notes that users can also review, edit, and/or remove data collected on them in the past by accessing the “Your Twitter data” option also located in settings.

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