Twitter Is Using Your Browsing History to Target Ads

By Casey Chan on at

In a continuing move to raise its third finger from the left to its users and developers, Twitter is letting advertisers use your personal browsing data that Twitter has been collecting to create better, more targeted advertisements. Woohoo.

Basically, Twitter has figured out what its users like by the accounts they follow, their browsing habits and whatever it is that they decide to click on and has begun selling it to advertisers. Here's what they'll now be doing:

There are two flavours of interest targeting. For broader reach, you can target more than 350 interest categories, ranging from Education to Home and Garden to Investing to Soccer, as shown in the screenshot below. As an example, if you were promoting a new animated film about dogs, you could select Animation (under Movies and Television), Cartoons (under Hobbies and Interests), and Dogs (under Pets).


If you want to target more precise sets of users, you can create custom segments by specifying certain @​usernames that are relevant to the product, event or initiative you are looking to promote. Custom segments let you reach users with similar interests to that @​username's followers; they do not let you specifically target the followers of that @​username. If you're promoting your indie band's next tour, you can create a custom audience by adding @​usernames of related bands, thus targeting users with the same taste in music.

It's obviously not the worst thing in the world to have ads you might care about in your Twitter feed but it's sort of annoying that our personal browsing data is just bandied about as some commodity to advertisers. YEAH I LIKE CAT VIDEOS, DOESN'T MEAN I WANT TO BUY PURINA ONE CAT FOOD. [Twitter]