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Twitter’s latest update is worrying stuff – here’s how to lock down your privacy settings

Twitter has unveiled a new update designed to better personalise the ads you see when using the social network. Sound a bit fishy? Just want to learn more? Our guide tells you all you need to know about how Twitter now tracks and uses your personal data – and will help you lock down your privacy settings, if that’s what you choose.

If you’ve used Twitter recently, you might have noticed a large pop-up informing you that the 140-character social network has updated its privacy policy.

You’d be right to wonder just what changes it’s made – and that’s where we come in.

The primary change Twitter has made to its privacy policy is that it will now track your behaviour outside of its app and website.

That means that when you click on a link in Twitter to visit a third-party website, your browsing data will be collected by the social network – if the website in question features Twitter integrations, such as embedded tweets or a Twitter share button.

This information will now be stored for 30 days, whereas previously Twitter only retained data for 10 days.

However, it’s worth noting that EU and EFTA (European Free Trade Association) member states are exempt from this change, thanks to European Union regulations.

A bunch of new privacy controls have also been added to Twitter, as well as a wealth of new data visibility options that let you see exactly what Twitter thinks you’re interested in, with a view to tailoring its ads.

It’s equal parts amusing and alarming, but you can see how Twitter perceives your personal interests, how many advertisers have you in their cross hairs, which apps Twitter knows are on your device, and where it thinks you’ve been.

To access this information, go to Settings and Privacy > Accounts > Your Twitter data > Your data on mobile, or Settings and privacy > Your Twitter data on the website.

In my case, I’m part of over 5800 ‘audiences’ and am apparently of interest to some 1800 advertisers, as well as boasting 62 interests and using 74 apps to Twitter’s knowledge.

Related: How to delete Facebook

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Don’t like the sound of all this? We’re going to explain how to lock down your Twitter account and restrict the amount of data it can collect on you.

How to lock down your Twitter privacy settings

The latest Twitter update might be a bit startling if (like me), you’re the proud owner of a tinfoil hat.

Fear not, though, fellow paranoid, because it’s easier than ever to manage your privacy settings in Twitter.

Here are step-by-step instructions to disable key permissions that allow Twitter to collect this much personal data.

Note that for the purposes of the mobile guide, I’m using an iOS device. Slight variations are possible in the Android app, but the process will be largely the same.

In the Twitter mobile app

1) Login to Twitter
Go to the ‘Me’ tab, found in the bottom right corner of the screen
Navigate to Settings by clicking the gear icon to the right of your profile photo
Click ‘Settings and Privacy’
Now, go to ‘Privacy and safety’
Click on ‘Personalization and data’
Disable whatever settings you’re uncomfortable with

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On the Twitter website

1) Login to Twitter
Click on your profile photo icon in the main nav bar
3) Now, go to ‘Settings and privacy’
Scroll down and find ‘Personalization and Data’, then click ‘Edit’
Disable the settings you’re not happy with

That’s all there is to it. You’ve now successfully tweaked your Twitter preferences to only share the personal data you want with the social network and its advertising partners.

Related: How to delete or disable Instagram

Are you worried by how much information Twitter hoards on you? Sound off in the comments below.

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