Twitter’s updated privacy policy sheds light on just what happens to your data

Twitter rolled out an updated privacy policy on Tuesday, with less legalese and a simpler format to help clarify how the platform uses data. The change, prompted in part by the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws in the European Union, is designed to make the company’s policies easier to understand. While the laws are only in the EU, Twitter says that the privacy settings and privacy policy update applies worldwide.

“Twitter’s purpose is to keep the world informed by serving the public conversation,” Damien Kieran, Twitter’s data protection officer, wrote in a blog post. “We work hard to build a great experience for people tweeting, and seeing tweets all over the world, and protecting the privacy of the people who use Twitter every day. We believe you should know the types of data you share with us and how we use it. Most importantly, you should have meaningful control over both.”

The new policy revises content to use clearer language, Twitter says. Part of making that language easier to understand includes highlighted phrases with hover-over definitions.

Take Direct Messages, for example. Twitter’s new policy says that for those, “we will store and process your communication and information related to them. This includes link scanning for malicious content, link shortening to http://t.co URLs, detection of spam and prohibited images, and review of reported issues.” The policy doesn’t appear to change Twitter’s approach to Direct Messages, but spells out what the company does with them — the current version of the privacy policy stops at storing and processing and doesn’t go into detail exactly what that entails.

The updated policy is redesigned to include several different sections, with a navigation section on the left of each section to look for a specific topic. The design is optimized for both desktop and mobile browsers, as well as including a downloadable plain text version. 

Twitter is also inviting questions and comments on the new policy, with contact information directly inside the policy. Notably, Twitter includes contact information for U.S. users that aren’t required to be assisted under the GDPR’s mandated data protection officer.

The updated policy also includes links to the related privacy tools directly inside the document.

The new policy will go into effect on May 25, the first day of the GDPR regulation. Users worldwide will have access to the same tools and will see the same privacy policy. Twitter users in the European Union will see a prompt when those new policies are in effect and will also be asked to review their current privacy settings.

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