Tuesday, 27 March 2018

How Twitter Gave Away My Data


Anyone who has been anywhere near the media this week can't fail to have noticed that Facebook has been up to its neck in allegations about providing account information to third parties ie for use in elections and for allegedly selling data about calls and texts to companies who use this for targeted advertising and whatever else.

Now, my opinion is clear. I do not believe the personal data of any user should be given or sold to companies to use, nor put on so called mailing or advertising lists without the express permission of the user every time. By that I mean if a company wants to add you to something, a consent message should appear on the screen asking if you want this to happen and giving you the option to say no. It's my data so should I not have more of a say in how it is used online?

I've never had a Facebook account so I figured this latest scandal didn't have anything to do with me. However I do have a Twitter account that I hardly use...I'm on it on Saturdays to follow the football scores as they come in, but mostly I don't really have much time to spend on it. I don't send a lot of tweets, I never get involved in big debates there and I usually forget to tweet about my books! I started the account to connect with authors and readers but as I don't review as many free from the author books now, I've been using it less. Today I decided to really look through my account and see what I could find on privacy and third party companies and what I found surprised me.

Firstly, there was a page that had decided based on my tweets etc what my gender and age was and had ticked a whole pile of supposed interests that they thought I had. I have no idea what they were doing as they had me down as a man aged 13-54 or over 65, with an interest in NBA basketball, air travel, comics, computer networking, mobile, romance and arts and crafts. Yeah right. I hate basketball, I don't know one end of a computer from another, I have no passport, I hate romance and art, I never read comics and don't own a mobile phone. Plus I'm female. Dead accurate that was.

Then I discovered this. If you go to Settings, then Your Twitter Data and scroll down until you see Tailored Audiences. I read this:

Tailored audiences are often built from email lists or browsing behaviours. They help advertisers reach prospective customers or people who have already expressed interest in their business


You are currently part of 67 audiences from 42 advertisers.

OK this was news to me! I always opt out of this kind of thing where a choice is given because I'm not in a data sharing habit for privacy and security. I clicked on the Request advertiser list button and it was emailed straight to me. I got a big surprise when I saw the pdf document. There was a page of advertisers that had included me in their lists. I only recognised a few that I had made contact with. 

But here is the disturbing part. At the start of the second page there was a message that said 'Twitter has included you in one or more audiences that are similar to tailored audiences for the advertisers below'. WHAT??? I never gave permission for that! There are EIGHT more pages of advertisers that Twitter decided to give my details to and I'm bloody mad! It cheerfully tells me that I can stop seeing the tailored ads they send if I opt out of interest based advertising on the site but that these companies will still hold my data! That is so not acceptable to me!!!

So Twitter have actually given my data to 432 twitter contacts including Air France, Arabic FBS (Arabic broker???) Barclays, Betfair, CiscoRussia, Honda, Hilton, ispygolfpro, The SIMS (???), UberIndia, NikeBrasil, Kim Kardashian (WTF is THAT all about???) and believe it or not, realDonaldTrump (you are seriously having a giraffe here). 

This is really beyond a joke. It goes to show we truly have NO idea where our data is going and who it is being shared with, however vigilant we try to be. I am cancelling my Twitter account today and will be free of it in 30 days. I'll concentrate on my blog and Goodreads instead. Be aware of this issue if you think your data is safe!

24 comments:

  1. I’m on a lot of social media, so I’ve pretty much accepted that they’re going to sell my data to advertisers and corrupt politicians. It’s still creepy, though. I see a lot of ads for basketball tickets, so maybe Twitter thinks I like basketball? I don’t. Interesting post! You put a lot of effort into figuring this out.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. I just got curious I guess. I have every privacy setting and opt out ticked so I thought I was doing ok on security but I guess just signing up to any of these social media means it's going to be impossible to protect your data. It's annoying though!

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  2. This is horrible...off to check mine out.

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    1. It makes you think doesn't it! I'm not telling everyone to suddenly dump all their social media but I was surprised that being such a light user, I could have my details shared to so many companies and people. Quite an eyeopener!

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  3. Technology is not always a good thing (or an accurate). I wish all of this data collection would all just stop.

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    1. I find myself wishing I'd never joined Twitter in the first place! I don't regret being on the Internet as that makes lots of things easier and more fun but this data selling really annoys me.

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  4. You know those terms and conditions and all that fine print these companies get you to check "I agree" to you first sign up for services? That's how these companies always get away with it, because they know no one ever reads those.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. Yeah that's probably true. I honestly can't remember anything about setting up Twitter so that's probably what happened. Maybe the governments need to introduce a system to stop these huge terms and conditions lists and have a couple of individual questions about data sharing and stuff. Mind you, if you want to join all these social media things I guess you'd have to agree to it whatever way it was written or not join!

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  5. Ew. This social media sharing of our personal data is way out of hand.

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    1. It's horrible! I wish I'd never joined Twitter!

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  6. Holy crap! That is so unacceptable. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I'm almost scared to go check my twitter account now, but off I go!

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    1. It is quite surprising to see where your data goes!

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  7. Ha, I just looked at mine and over half the interests are book-related.

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    1. Virtually none of mine were book related which was pretty weird. Lots of things like holiday companies and crap I'm not interested in!

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  8. Char posted something on Twitter yesterday about Google keeping track of all your movements, emails, likes, website visits - basically everything you freaking do. It's insidious.

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    1. It is disturbing to realise that there is no such thing as privacy.

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  9. I don't think we have any privacy any more and they can pretty much do whatever they want.
    sherry @ fundinmental

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  10. The amount of information they collect from us constantly is alarming and there is no way to stop some of it. I can have a conversation about some random topic, with my phone nearby, and suddenly ads start popping up for me on Facebook related to the same topic. I did not realize this about Twitter and am going to take a look at it now. Yuck.

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    1. I get so tired of all this stuff happening-I spend less time online because of it and I NEVER buy anything shown to me in these pop up ads!

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  11. I checked my Twitter Data (can you believe I had never done that once before I read your post?) and apparently, apart from the derogatory books, Law & Order, Doctor Who, Queen and stuff I tweet about or like or whatever, they assumed I was interested in romance (which I only mention to say it's a genre I don't read), homeschooling (I don't even have kids), metal, and a bunch of other things I don't even think about at no given hour LOL. Anyway, I found an evil pleasure in unchecking ALL their little boxes. Also, apparently, based on my interests...I'm a male 😂.
    I am only part of 2 audiences from 1 advertiser. Didn't even requested the name, because there's no amount of advertising that can convince me to buy anything. Quite the contrary, actually...
    Of course, we can't expect to have the free internet stuff without paying a different kind of price. Still, this is so very shady. Thanks for this post! I will check my Twitter data more often...

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    1. It is fun to uncheck all their boxes isn't it! I took a great joy in that! I couldn't believe all the stupid assumptions they made and how they seemed to have so many things I hate down as an interest! I think they need to work on that...It IS really shady and annoying that all this is going on around you and you just don't know it!

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  12. It's crazy the number of people who can get their hands on our data in this day and age. I'll have to go check out my Twitter account now, though I know I'm not going to delete it, so I'll probably just have to live with that.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I shut my Twitter account. I don't use it that much really and it isn't worth the added hassle of all this advertising and data stuff to me.

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