Twitter Has Been Guessing Your Gender And People Are Pissed


It feels pretty creepy to find out that Twitter has been using people’s data to assign them gender identities. But this isn’t strange. It’s entirely common for websites to infer their visitors’ and users’ genders for advertising purposes. Google does this for you too (and you can check what assumptions Google’s made approximately you here).

The fact that Twitter allows you to edit your assumed gender or write in how you identify is actually a step up from what some other tech companies offer users. Google only allows you to indicate that you are male, female, or “significantly not say.” Facebook has allowed you to write in your own gender field since 2015 (though gender has always been piece of your Facebook profile, unlike Twitter, which has never asked you to specify). And overall, transparency approximately how these platforms spend our data is superior! Yay transparency!

We utter know that companies like Twitter and Facebook are using our data to allow advertisers to find and target specific people — that’s social media companies’ commerce, trade model. In additional to the gender and age that they infer, there’s a whole list of things they believe you’re interested in that advertisers can spend. Twitter thinks I’m interested in “investing” and “men’s pants” even though I’m not, but that’s low-stakes and more humorous than anything else.

But for trans and gender-nonconforming people, seeing that a platform for free expression like Twitter has been making gender assumptions for them — whether it’s right or wrong — can be jarring and upsetting.

Katie Notopoulos is a senior editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in novel York. Notopoulos writes approximately tech and internet culture is cohost of the Internet Explorer podcast.

Contact Katie Notopoulos at katie@buzzfeed.com.

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