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Twitter has a list of things it thinks you’re interested in — here’s how to see it

You might want to take a look at these.

Hawthorn Community Camp Michael Dodge / Getty

You may have noticed a massive, full-screen Twitter pop-up Wednesday alerting users that the company has updated its privacy policy.

That update involves a couple of things, including a tweak to how the company uses data from your browsing history outside of Twitter. The company already collects web browsing data when you visit third-party websites that use its API, which might mean a website that has “embedded timelines or Tweet buttons” on it.


And while Twitter previously stored that information for 10 days, it now says it will store it for 30 days so it can “further improve and personalize” the kinds of ads and content it shows you. If this freaks you out, you can opt out of this entirely.

But Wednesday’s update also included something else that we found interesting, and possibly even hilarious: You can now see what “interests” Twitter thinks you have, and that it uses to decide which ads and content to show you in your timeline.

Some of these interests are derived from your Twitter activity — like who you follow and what accounts you engage with. But Twitter will also show you “interests from partners,” or categories that advertisers have put you into based on data they collect off Twitter. You can also request an entire list of advertisers that have put you into a “tailored audience,” or targeted group of users it wishes to reach.

To find what Twitter and its advertisers think you like, just open settings and click on “your Twitter data.”

My interests, according to Twitter

In my case, Twitter has identified that I have 80 interests based on my “profile and activity.” They weren’t bad — lots of sports, lots of business, lots of technology.

The interests that Twitter’s partners think I have, though, were surprisingly off-base. Those interests are created from offline and online activity not specific to Twitter, and “may include categories such as hobbies, household income, shopping interests, or previous purchases,” according to a page on Twitter’s help center.

Twitter’s partners seem to be confused. My interests, according to their data: “fit moms,” “Back to school shoppers - kids under 12,” and “Sesame Street,” among many other embarrassing categories I won’t list off.

The list made me laugh, but this is also the point of the exercise. Twitter wants users to know why they are being targeted for certain ads or content so that they can correct the record. If Twitter thinks I want “Sesame Street” ads, that’s a bummer for me, and for “Sesame Street.”

Twitter is not the only company that offers this kind of insight. Facebook lets users see what categories it uses to target them with ads, and so does Google. It may be worth a few minutes of your time to set the record straight on what you care about, and what you don’t. (Sorry, “Sesame Street.”)

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