Illustration by Ori Toor
You can’t keep Twitter out of your data completely, but you can lessen the damage
In April 2020, Twitter began sharing more of your information with advertisers. Notice came via a rather weird notification that said “your ability to control mobile app advertising measurements has been removed” — which basically meant that Twitter was now sharing data such as which ads you looked at or interacted with, as well as the tracking identifier for your phone. Previously, you could turn that off — no longer. (Unless you live in the European Union or the UK, where there are extra protections.)
Twitter removed some of its privacy protections in April 2020.
While that protection has been removed, there are still a few privacy tools available that can give you at least some measure of say over how much of your data is shared with advertisers. If you’re concerned about privacy, it’s worth it to take a few minutes to find them and turn them off.
There is a single page on the web where you can find a lot of the settings, called the “Personalization and data” page. Unfortunately, that page no longer seems to be available on the mobile app. So while we’ll initially discuss the settings as found on the web page, I’ll also tell you how to get to each feature on mobile. (To get to any of the mobile settings, you’ll always start by tapping on your personal icon in the upper left corner.)
The “Personalization and data” page lets you disable some of the accesses advertisers have to your data.
Disabling ad personalization
On the “Personalization and data” page, you’ll find several advertising settings that give Twitter permission to “further personalize” your advertising by using information based on your “inferred identity,” location, or other factors. (Go ahead and read all the descriptions — they’re worth knowing about.) You can choose to enable any of these settings if you wish, but otherwise, use the toggle at the top of the page to disable all of the settings on the page.
If you’re using the mobile app:
Find “Personalized ads” by going to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Ads preferences
Find “Personalize based on your inferred identity” by going to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Off-Twitter activity
Find “Personalize based on places you’ve been” by going to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Location information
Find “Allow use of where you see Twitter content across the web” by going to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Off-Twitter activity
Find “Allow additional information sharing with business partners” by going to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Data sharing with business partners
Find “Personalize based on precise location” (which is not available on the web settings) by going to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Location information
See your Twitter data
If you’d like to go a little further, and check the other data that Twitter knows about you (and possibly remove at least some of it), go down to the bottom of the “Personalization and data” page and click on “See your Twitter data.” Check all of these topics out; you may be surprised by some of the info that’s there. Here’s a short summary of each (along with directions if you’re using the mobile app).
Account. This is all basic stuff, like your name, age range, whether you have a verified account, and what other languages you speak. (I was amused to find that Twitter thinks I speak German. Okay, Twitter, whatever.) In the mobile app: Settings and privacy > Account > Account information
Account history. This contains two separate areas: a listing of other accounts that have access to your account, and a listing of places you have been. It’s a good idea to check the former to see if there are any services that have access to your account and shouldn’t; you can revoke permission on the Connected apps page. If you don’t want Twitter to know where you are or where you’ve been, use Location settings to turn off access. In the mobile app: Settings and privacy > Security and account access > Apps and sessions.
Apps, devices & information. There are two sections here. “Apps, devices & information” is where you might find some of the devices and browsers that Twitter gets info from — assuming you allow it to. This is what Twitter meant when it asked to “Personalize based on your inferred identity” on the “Personalization and data page,” and it is one of the permissions that can be revoked there. The second, “Connected apps,” is another way to access several of the pages already mentioned here. This info can also be found in your mobile app under: Settings and privacy > Security and account access > Apps and sessions.
Account activity. This lets you see what accounts you’ve blocked or muted. On your mobile app: Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Mute and block.
“Interests from Twitter” tells you all the various interests that Twitter has matched to you based on your activity.
Interests and ad data. Here’s a section you may spend a lot of time with, especially with “Interests from Twitter,” which tells you all the various interests that Twitter has matched to you based on your activity. If you plan on reviewing this thoroughly, put aside a few minutes: one of my Twitter accounts had 742 interests listed, including quite a few weird ones. As someone who has no interest in sports, I’d love to know how Twitter came up with “NBA videos” as an interest of mine.
The other two categories here, “Inferred interests from partners” and “Tailored audiences,” can be disabled using the “Personalization and data” page.
I couldn’t find anything similar using the mobile app, but you can go to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Content you see > Topics. There you’ll see some of the topics you’ve followed and that Twitter suggests you might want to follow.
Finally, “Download archive” lets you download the archive of your account history and activity. In your mobile app, go to Settings and privacy > Your account > Download an archive of your data.
[Note: A reader (@hex on Twitter) sent a tip on how to find these data settings on mobile. On your Twitter app, tap on your personal icon in the upper left corner and go to “Settings and privacy” > “Privacy and safety” > “Content you see” > “Topics.” At the bottom of the screen, there is a paragraph that suggests you check out “Your Twitter data.” Tap on that link and you’ll get access to these same topics.]
Want to be really safe? You may want to just bite the bullet and delete your Twitter history entirely.
Update, December 8th, 2021, 9AM ET: This article was originally published on June 15th, 2021, and has been updated to accommodate changes in the web and mobile apps.
Update, December 14th, 2021 9AM ET: Updated to include instructions on how to find Twitter data on mobile.