Twitter reminds us we are the product, by providing our data to 'partners'

; Date: August 7, 2019

Tags: Twitter »»»» Social Media Networks

Remember - if you're using a service for free, that means you are the product. Twitter, Facebook, etc, are rich well funded companies, but the service they provide is free for the users. How do these companies make their money by offering a free service? Recently Twitter disclosed they've been sharing data with "partners", but they've now stopped doing so. Honest injun.

According to Twitter the problem existed since May 2018, or else since September 2018, and was definitely fixed on August 5, 2019. Maybe they have a bridge to sell us if we believe this.

Problem 1 was described as: If you clicked or viewed an advertisement for a mobile application and subsequently interacted with the mobile application and this problem existed since May 2018. In this case Twitter shared " (developer.twitter.com) Conversion Event" data with so-called Measurement Partners. There are two types of measurement partners:

  1. Real-Time Bidding (RTB) - these partners help advertisers to buy advertising.
  2. Conversion Tracking - these partners help advertisers know how well their ads performed.

Problem 2 was described as: As part of a process we use to try and serve more relevant advertising on Twitter and other services since September 2018, we may have shown you ads based on inferences we made about the devices you use, even if you did not give us permission to do so. This information was collected without permission, but supposedly was not shared with 3rd parties.

Twitter's posting about this closes with:

You trust us to follow your choices and we failed here. We’re sorry this happened, and are taking steps to make sure we don’t make a mistake like this again. If you have any questions, you may contact Twitter's Office of Data Protection through this (twitter.ethicspointvp.com) form.

Yes, Twitter, and Facebook and the rest, all of y'all have failed all of us.

Why should we believe this claim that it won't happen again? This sort of leak has happened time after time after time.

Twitter suggests:

Aside from checking your settings, we don't believe there is anything for you to do.

There's something for all of us to do. Stop using Twitter and Facebook and the rest so much.

The rich irony in making this suggestion is that - as soon as I publish this blog post it will be tweeted and posted to a Facebook page, and I hope to reach an audience through both mechanisms. Such is life.

Another more practical thing to do is to go into the settings and turn off data sharing options. Possibly that won't make any difference, but at least you're positively informing these services of your desire.

For example -