Learning a lesson from Facebook, Twitter has realized that the more it knows about us, the more valuable its ads can be, which is why it's working on a "custom audiences" tool that uses email addresses from retailers to serve more "relevant" ads for marketers, sources tell Bloomberg's Douglas MacMillan and Jon Erlichman. In an attempt to move beyond standard promoted tweets, Twitter is trying so hard to legitimize its business model that, well, you're about to find out just how much Twitter really knows about where you shop. And the main privacy model "doesn't actually provide protection," the Electronic Frontier Foundation firm tells The Atlantic Wire.
Twitter's custom ad plan works like this: Companies will share the email address you gave to them — either at check-out or via online shopping — with Twitter, which then plans to share your address with advertisers, who will then use it to send the right ads to the right people back on Twitter. Don't be surprised if you start seeing promoted trends and tweets for your favorite stores around the end of the year, when sources tell Bloomberg the program would start rolling out.
It's not exactly as all-knowing as Facebook's current setup — the social network knows where we shop and what we bought — but there are still some privacy concerns. First of all, the premise alone is unsettling. This kind of targeted advertising can get specific in a way that might make tweeters uncomfortable. Why does Twitter know that Spencer's is my favorite retailer? Do I want Twitter knowing that? Maybe not.