Twitter announced Monday that you can add your birthday to your profile — a move that may increase the mentions you get on that special day, but, more importantly for Twitter, give advertisers a better idea of who they are marketing to.
The social network has never had solid data on the age of its user base. Unless you tried to follow an alcohol brand on the service, there was no place to explicitly tell Twitter how old you were. It could glean information about you based on what you tweet or who you follow, but it never knew your age. Now, if you choose to share your birthday on your profile, it will.
Twitter won’t use this age info to target users with ads right now. You can bet, though, that it will at some point down the line. It’s valuable information, after all. It’s also a reminder of how far Twitter still lags behind Facebook in terms of collecting demographic data on its user base — the kind of info advertisers are looking for.
Facebook has always required each person to sign up with an “authentic” identity, a rule the company claims will help better control abuse and help people find one another. (Right now, it’s not a very popular one.) It’s also a nifty way to ensure it knows what age and gender its members are for ad-targeting purposes. As an anonymous platform, Twitter has never had that info to offer advertisers. Perhaps now it will.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.