SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter users can now show their birthday on profiles — but should they?
The social media company made the announcement about the festive new feature in a blog post: “#HBD: Celebrate your birthday on Twitter.”
Actor and comedian Kevin Hart now includes his birthday in his profile. (Of course, Hart is a public figure so his birthday is already public knowledge.) And, of course, people routinely share their birthday with friends on Facebook and other social networks.
Yet, while some people may want the Twitterverse to celebrate their special day, depending on privacy settings, they could also be sharing that personal information with a bunch of other folks, too.
Knowing someone’s birth date can help marketers more precisely target ads. In fact, Twitter admits if you put your birthday on your profile, it will use it to “show you more relevant content, including ads.”
And publicly divulging your birth date (along with other sensitive information such as home address, driver’s license number and Social Security number) can make you more vulnerable to identity thieves.
“Your birth date is a completely optional part of your profile and you have full control over who can see it,” product manager Ricardo Castro wrote in the blog post.
Users can choose between sharing their birthday with the public, their followers, people they follow, people they follow who follow them back or “only me.”
To add your birth date to your Twitter profile, select “edit profile” option on Twitter.com. You can include the birth month and day or separately the birth year.
Privacy watchdog Jeffrey Chester says Twitter users should think twice before adding birthdays to profiles.
Twitter is “dependent on advertising and can never achieve the data driven heights that can be delivered by Facebook and Google. Twitter will do anything to twist a few more pennies from its advertisers, including using information about our birthday and who celebrates it,” said Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “The candles on the cake are really for Twitter, who hopes to gain a new slice of digital ad dollars.”