Twitter can find out many things about who you are based on the details you provide while setting up your profile and even some information that you do not explicitly provide but is inferred from your activity. Some of the things Twitter can know about you include:
- Your IP address
- Locations you tweet from
- Devices you tweet from
- The browser you use
- Contacts on your phone
- Apps you authorize to use Twitter
- Topics and people you’re interested in
- Your off-Twitter activity on websites that have partnerships with Twitter
This data is used to create a detailed profile of you that helps advertisers target you with the right content in an attempt to get you to buy products or services, check out new websites or apps, follow certain accounts, and so on. You don’t even need to be a user of the platform for Twitter to know about you. Many websites and apps share what they know about you with Twitter to help improve targeted advertising.
Read our full article below to learn more about how Twitter tracks you, and how you can protect your privacy while tweeting.
Twitter is one of the biggest social media sites in the world. People across the globe use it to stay informed, express themselves, support causes, and more. If you’ve ever wondered what Twitter knows about you, you’re in the right place. This article will dive deep into uncovering the details.
Twitter is free to use because it sells targeted advertising that generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. So, just like Facebook and Google, Twitter collects an astonishing amount of personal information about you even if you never log in. This includes:
- Every tweet you’ve ever posted.
- Every device you use Twitter on.
- Locations from where you’ve tweeted.
- Your interests and any other topics you care about.
- The apps or websites you frequent, and more.
How to Check What Twitter Knows About You
Are you curious to know exactly what information Twitter is gathering about you? You can easily check and adjust this on your own Twitter profile. Simply follow these steps:
- Log in to Twitter on a browser like Safari or Google Chrome and click on “More” on the panel on the left.
- Click “Settings and Privacy.”
- Click on “Privacy and Safety” to view a range of options about your Twitter activity, data sharing, and off-Twitter activity.
- You can go to each section to view and control what Twitter knows about you. For instance, if you click on “Content you see,” you can view your “interests” and customize them by ticking or unticking the checkboxes.
You can tweak your privacy settings to control some of the information that Twitter collects about you. You can, for example, opt out of personalization and data tracking.
Download a Copy of Your Twitter Data
For a comprehensive overview of everything Twitter knows about you, you can request a copy of your data as follows:
- Log in to Twitter on a browser like Safari or Google Chrome.
- On the left, click on “More” and then click “Settings and Privacy.”
- Click on “Your Account” and then click “Download an archive of your data.”
- To protect your privacy, Twitter will ask you to verify your identity by entering your password and a code sent to your email or phone.
- After verification, click on “Request Archive.”Twitter will create a zip file of all your data and notify you once it’s ready to download. This might take a few hours or even a few days for the archive to be prepared. A download link will be emailed to you when it’s ready.
- Download the file and unzip it to view exactly what Twitter knows about you.
Why and How Twitter Determines What You’re Interested In
Your information is valuable to Twitter. It helps advertisers understand who you are and how to present ads better suited to your interests. The better Twitter knows you, the more valuable their advertising platform is. Based on Twitter’s billions of dollars in annual revenue, they know their users very well.
Any information you post on Twitter is public. Unless you protect a post, it’s available to anyone in the world. Your posts are searchable online and can reveal a great deal about who you are to advertisers.
The opinions and interests you express and the causes you support through your tweets can help advertisers better target their advertising to you. They also use the information to research how you might respond to an ad. For small-scale embedded tweets, this is free. But Twitter charges for large-scale access to your data.
Let’s check out two ways in which Twitter creates a profile of you, firstly through your activity, and secondly through gleaning hidden information that you may not be aware you’re providing.
Your activity on Twitter
If you tweet about a current event in the news, Twitter and advertisers can begin to get an idea of your political leanings. Post a humorous observation about your job and Twitter takes note of the type of work you do. As a result, ads from job search websites may appear on your timeline to help you find a new job.
Twitter analyzes how you tweet and retweet, the accounts you follow, and any other interactions you have when using the site or app. If you let the app sync with your phone contacts, it can find people from your address book who are already on Twitter and suggest that you connect with them.
Further, by omparing your tweets with others’ and noting the people you follow, it can guess your gender, age, and other details pretty accurately.
If you don’t turn off the photo tagging option, Twitter can recognize your picture and compare that to other pictures found of you online. They then learn even more about who you are to customize their profile of you.
Hidden information you provide
Twitter pieces together information about you even if you don’t directly provide it as part of your profile. For instance, the app accesses location information from your device to improve advertising and show you trending topics or tweets relevant to the place you’re in.
How Twitter knows your location
You can adjust your privacy settings to keep your location hidden in your tweets, but this only ensures that other users can’t see where you are. Twitter itself always uses your current location to show you more relevant content. It determines your location based on your IP address, GPS information, and data about nearby wireless networks or cell towers if you’re on a smartphone.
On the Twitter iOS and Android app, your precise location is turned off by default, which prevents Twitter from collecting, storing, and using your device’s precise location information. Even so Twitter still has a general idea of where you are when using the app.
The IP address of the device you connect with pinpoints exactly where Twitter is sending data to. It can use this to infer where you live, work, and shop, and how much time you spend using Twitter in different locations.
How Twitter tracks your browsing activity
That’s not all. Twitter also looks at your browsing activity outside of Twitter, if you’ve granted it permission to do so. The Twitter help page states, “For example, if you regularly visit birdwatching websites, we might suggest accounts that frequently Tweet about that topic, or show you ads for binoculars or birdfeeders.”
Note that Twitter says your web browsing history is only kept for 30 days and is never associated with your name, email address, phone number, or Twitter handle.
In a nutshell, some of the hidden information Twitter gleans about you includes:
- the type of browser you use
- your device and its operating system
- your mobile carrier
- your IP address
- your browsing activity outside Twitter
Twitter Even Tracks People Without an Account
You may think you’re safe from Twitter’s constant snooping if you never use it. Unfortunately, this is not true and Twitter can collect information about you even if you’ve never created an account on the platform. The company has agreements with other websites that embed tweets and use Twitter in other ways. Through these agreements, Twitter can track activity, even of those who don’t use their service.
When you visit a website that has an agreement with Twitter, the company receives a treasure trove of information about you. For instance, using your IP address, Twitter can gain an accurate idea of where you are located, which may reveal where you live or work.
Twitter will also know the website you came from before landing on the referring website. When you leave the site, Twitter might know where you went. If you allow cookies in your browser, your web activity may be tracked well beyond the next website. Twitter uses your inferred identity to personalize your experience in terms of the content and ads you see on its platform.
Of course, it’s in both Twitter’s and advertisers’ best interest to work together to improve their profile of you. To that end, advertisers on Twitter will often share data you have provided to their company, or they’ve learned about you in other ways. This may include demographic information such as your age, race, gender, and ethnicity. Advertisers often share hashed email addresses, which can be used to identify you. Partners also share information they own about your interests and activities online.
How to Protect Your Privacy on Twitter
Protecting your privacy on Twitter or any other social media app is difficult, but not impossible. Here are a few steps you can take to control what information Twitter collects and uses about you:
1. Review your privacy settings
The first step to controlling what Twitter knows about you is to understand its privacy settings. These settings look different depending on whether you’re accessing them via the Twitter website or the mobile app. The website has a comprehensive overview, while the app offers limited settings. You should review your privacy settings on both the site and the mobile app if you use it.
In your settings, you’ll find several options to restrict or change how your data is tracked and used. For instance, you can limit personalized ads and determine to what degree Twitter tracks your off-Twitter activity. For all the details, check out our article about adjusting your Twitter privacy settings.
2. Use a VPN
As explained above, Twitter collects information even from people who don’t use the platform. A good way to prevent this would be to anonymize your online actions by using a virtual private network (VPN). Check out our full guide to VPNs for a quick explanation of how this can protect you. Also, make sure to consult our list of top VPN providers to find one that best suits your needs.
3. Use privacy-minded software and alternatives
If you want to use Twitter, but aren’t keen on personalized ads and other kinds of tracking, it’s a good idea to use a more private web browser or install privacy extensions that can block ads and cookies to protect your identity.
You may also want to consider using alternative services that have somewhat better privacy controls, such as Reddit. However, bear in mind that most social media platforms will track you in some way or another, no matter what.
We hope this guide has helped you find everything that Twitter knows about you. If you’re considering deleting Twitter, check out this step-by-step guide.
Got more questions? Leave them in the comments below so we can help you out.
Do you have more questions about what Twitter knows about you? We’ve got you covered! Check out the following section and, in case you still have a concern, let us know in the comments below so we can help you out.
Twitter has a lot of information about you, from data you provide such as your name, email, phone number, and interests, to details you might not knowingly give them, such as your IP address, location, and contacts. With advanced algorithms and advertising partnerships, Twitter can analyze your activity on their platform as well as on other websites to create a detailed profile of who you are, where you’re located, what you like and dislike, and more.
You can see this by logging into your Twitter account on the web. On your profile, in the left-hand panel, click on “More” and then click “Settings and Privacy.” Here you’ll see a range of options about your Twitter activity, data sharing, and off-Twitter activity. You can click through each one to see everything Twitter knows about you.
Log in to Twitter on the web and click “More” on the left panel. Then click “Settings and Privacy,” followed by “Your Account.” Select “Download an archive of your data.” You will have to verify your identity and then request an archive of your data. It can take a few days for the archive to be prepared and you will receive a download link in your email.
A good place to start is to review your privacy settings and change anything you feel the need to. If you’ve already done that, you can anonymize your online activity by using a VPN. This can limit how Twitter tracks you and protect your privacy. Check out our list of affordable VPN providers that you could try.