6 simple steps for taking your privacy back from Twitter

Emma McGowan 7 Dec 2020

Turning off ads, securing your Off-Twitter Activity, and more

Those of you who have been playing along with the Avast Privacy Refresh for the past few weeks know that we’ve worked together to take back some control of our data from Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Each week, I’ve given you a simple, less than five minute task, that you can do to take back some of your privacy and data from the big social media companies. Today, we’re going to tackle the final installment: Twitter.

Twitter, like the other social media giants we’ve talked about, likes to collect data about you and sell it advertisers. According to their Privacy Policy

“Our ad partners and affiliates share information with us such as browser cookie IDs, mobile device IDs, hashed email addresses, demographic or interest data, and content viewed or actions taken on a website or app. Some of our ad partners, particularly our advertisers, also enable us to collect similar information directly from their website or app by integrating our advertising technology.”

So basically, they’re collecting info about you and combining it with info from other sources to serve you ads for things that you’re more likely to buy. If that’s fine with you, that’s fine! But if it’s not, here’s this week’s Privacy Refresh.

Monday: Put it in the calendar

This Monday is just the same as the past three Mondays, everyone: Put each step into your calendar so you remember to do them. I recommend setting it for the same time every day so that you just get into the habit. 

And if you’ve done our other Privacy Refreshes, it’s even easier because you already know your time! Plug these into your calendar and you’re good to go.

Tuesday: Opt out of ads

The first thing you’ll need to do is open up Twitter and then find Security and Privacy.

On desktop, it’s under the three dots (More) in the column to the far left. On mobile, it’s under the three line “hamburger” icon in the upper left corner. This is going to be our command station this week as we work on taking back some privacy from Twitter.

Click or tap on “Privacy and safety” and then scroll down to “Ad preferences". Unclick “personalized ads” and theoretically that should prevent Twitter from using your data to show you ads. However, it doesn’t unblock all of the interests that they’ve gathered on you, which seems kind of shady. So if you want to get rid of those too, click on “Interests” and you can see all of the things that Twitter is using to target ads to you. Like Facebook, there’s no “remove all” button, so unclicking all of these might take a second. Turn on a podcast or something — it will make it go by faster.

Wednesday: Lock down Off-Twitter Activity

Today we’re going to keep Twitter from tracking what you do off Twitter. In the same Settings area, go to “Privacy and safety” and then “Off-Twitter Activity". Uncheck the boxes next to both “Allow use of where you see Twitter content across the Web” and “Personalize based on your inferred identity". This will keep Twitter from using data they collect via embed codes across the web.

Thursday: Don’t allow data sharing

I think Twitter’s own explanation of what “Data sharing with business partners” means says it all: “When enabled, this allows Twitter to share additional information with those partners to help support running Twitter’s business, including making Twitter’s marketing activities on other sites and apps more relevant for you.”

Pass, thanks. Go to “Privacy and safety”, then “Data sharing with business partners". Uncheck “Allow additional information sharing with business partners” and you’re good to go.

Friday: Turn off location info

Twitter says that they use your location info to personalize the content you see. But, generally, I’m not really into having my location tracked all over the place. So let’s get rid of this tracker today, shall we?

Go to that same “Privacy and safety” tab and then “Location information". Uncheck “Personalize based on places you’ve been". You can also take a look at the places you’ve been that are already recorded, but you can only see them if “Personalize based on places you’ve been” is still checked. So do that before unchecking and choose whether or not you want to delete what’s there.

Saturday: Opt out of all ads 

We’ve now walked you through how to turn off ads in each of the big social media companies. And we did that way because we figured your preferences might be different for different ones. But there’s actually a way you can opt out of personalized ads on all your platforms, which is the Network Advertising site. If you don’t want to be tracked anywhere for ads, they’ll walk you through the process.

Sunday: Find the funniest Twitter thread

Your mission for today: Find a Twitter thread that makes you laugh out loud. Share it with a friend or loved one. That’s it!

As 2020 winds down, I hope you’re feeling like you’ve gotten a better handle on your privacy with the Avast Privacy Refresh. See you next year — we have even more ways to help you regain control of your data planned for 2021. 

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