Twitter, just like many other "free to use" services on the Internet earns most of its revenue from advertisement that is displayed to users of the service. The company announced today that it is rolling out a new feature to Twitter users from the United States that will take into account third party information to tailor ads based on that to the user.
What does that mean? It means basically that third parties can now exchange data with Twitter, cookies or hashed email addresses so that Twitter can match the information with its own information to display targeted advertisement to matching users.
The company gives a basic example on the official Twitter blog. A florist may use the new service to target Twitter users who have been to the website or subscribed to the newsletter of the store already. Only users that Twitter can match based on information provided by the store will see the advertisement in form of a promoted tweet, while all other users won't even know that the advertisement campaign is running.
While that may certainly be useful to businesses and Twitter alike, considering that it is usually beneficial to know as much about individual users as possible, it may be somewhat scary for Twitter users.
If you do not want Twitter to know what you have been up to, then you can prevent that data exchange from happening. While it won't prevent you from seeing advertisement on Twitter, it does make sure that those ads are not based on exchanged data.
Note that promoted content is only available to users from the United States. You can change your location to the country to get the option, and if you do not mind being associated with another country, can avoid them altogether by changing your country in the Twitter settings.
It is interesting to note that Twitter honors the Do Not Track header of the web browser. If you have enabled Do Not Track, Twitter will not receive information from ad partners about you, so that it cannot match ads even if the promoted content feature is enabled.
A support page answers the most pressing questions.
1. Who are Twitter's ad partners?
Twitter is using the three ad deliver services Adara, Chango and media6degree. The services use opt-out pages as well which you can access individually.
2. Where are tailored ads displayed?
They are displayed in the same places where promoted tweets and promoted accounts are shown. The feature is currently only available to users from the US. If successful, it may be rolled out to other countries.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.