Yesterday, after someone popped up on my Twitter feed that I had blocked, I went on a bit of an impromptu exploration of my account. What I found made me stop and think about how Twitter has changed in the last few years, and that those of use using the platform for promotion purposes need to look quite closely at what it is we say and do.
The first major takeaway from this exercise was that, based on my profile and activity, the web-based version of the platform decided I was male. This is not on reflection as much of a surprise as it was yesterday and explains why so much of the advertising that drove me off using the Mac OS version of Twitter was targetted in the way it was. I’d never go back to using the web-based interface either because of the adverts, and it remains the #1 reason why I can’t ever take Twitter seriously (as is the case with Facebook.)
On further inspection, there’s a list of ‘interests’ generated on the web API which (presumably) are used to tailor the advertising I don’t look at.
The eight items that remain hidden (and unclickable) are something of an issue, but not nearly as much as the fact that there are things I’m associated with that I don’t understand:
Okay I get the majority of these (and woman’s pants/trousers are clearly an item of interest) but WTF is kaurie2 and WHY do I have THREE mentions of it? One assumes it’s a mistake or a programmers oversight… but, REALLY?
There is also the means by which you can ask Twitter exactly how it uses data in order to tailor content to you. In my case that is a 13 page .PDF file which includes all the commercial Twitter accounts the company feels I would have an interest in. Twitter ‘creates these audiences based on similarities between (your) account and the accounts included in tailored audiences’ and even by opting out of all the specific tools that sell to me, I cannot remove myself from being sold at. There’s a number of out and out spam accounts on this list, apart from a number of fairly obvious other high-profile names… and some not so obvious ones…
Yes really, I’m on her list, despite being a) not eligible to vote in the US and b) not being American. Twitter, your metrics need a SERIOUS overhaul…
If these things matter to you and if you’re interested in how robots and algorithms already are arbitrarily labelling your future… maybe take some time today to see what companies Twitter has decided you need to be an audience for.
THE RESULTS WILL SURPRISE YOU.