Video game

Twitter’s new privacy policy is a bad video game, Data Dash

Twitter Data Dash is an 8-bit themed video game featuring an offensively cute dog.

Twitter Data Dash is an 8-bit themed video game featuring an offensively cute dog.
Screenshot: Twitter

Twitter on Tuesday unveiled a quiz designed to help users get to grips with the platform’s privacy policies. It’s both joyful and deeply confusing.

Twitter Data Dashboard tells the story of you and your dog Data traversing the various obstacles around PrivaCity. The game says, “Follow the instructions to protect it, and learn to control your own Twitter experience along the way.” The game is a candy-colored 2D platformer with a simple premise (and a bomb soundtrack). You and your trusty pup must navigate through four different sprawling locations in PrivaCity, dodging bad guys and collecting bones – a process the game says will help you “figure it out”. [Twitter’s] slightly better privacy policy.

This was not the case. The game, as adorable as it is, is also buggy – the two Gizmodo journalists who played got stuck in different parts of the levels we tried to play. But that’s not the worst. The main problem with Twitter Data Dash is that it doesn’t seem to know what– or who – he’s trying to communicate to in the first place.

When you start the first level, you’re told that Data “doesn’t want any part of the cat ads in your path”. Your goal is to take your pup around the small town in search of hidden bones, while dodging those commercials – personified by candy-pink cats wearing adorable kitten billboards – in the process.

The only thing standing between my avatar and this bone...deodorant stick...thing(?) is a cat in a sandwich board.

The only thing standing between my avatar and this bone…deodorant stick…thing(?) is a cat in a sandwich board.
Screenshot: Shoshana Wodinsky (Gizmodo)

If the dog is meant to represent our personal data, does that imply that we can prevent advertisers from obtaining that data simply by avoiding it? Are we supposed to march? Don’t click on it? Use an ad blocker? If the data is our data, what are the bones? It’s a bit rich that Twitter has made a game of avoiding faceless advertisers when the platform is actively doing everything it can to make ads harder to avoid. More recently, this has meant launching a new product which inserts ads into replies to threads – an idea which, as we have already reportedmanages to piss off Twitter users and Twitter advertisers.

The level also ignores some basic “data” and “ads” rules, such as bypassing an ad by, for example, scrolling or clicking on it. does not mean that the data is not collected. Every time you see an ad in your search results, on your timeline, or in your conversations on Twitter, the platform keeps a record of these so-called “impressions” so it can track eyeballs converted into paying customers, a measure that the Platform also follows. In the world of PrivaCity, the analog would be that every time Data walks past an advertisement, the feline advertisers note his location and eventually compile an itinerary of his daily walk.

Twitter allows users to opt out of targeted ads on the platform; and, to his credit, makes the process pretty easy. But flipping that switch doesn’t eliminate ads on the bulk platform — they’re still there and continue to suck up data from your previews, clicks, app downloads and more, but they’re less specific. And if you cut off that data supply by… not using Twitter at all, then the company still gets data about you from a clown car adtech partnerswhich include notable data brokers like Axciom, Liveramp, and Oracle.

If Twitter Actually wanted to be precise with this level, then you wouldn’t be running free through a town, dodging bad guys and collecting bones of somewhat dubious origin. Instead, bad guys are inevitable, and they not only actively pile on your poor pup Data and crush his tiny lungs, but you, the player, have to live with the knowledge that data will continue to be choked out long after you leave the game. Fun, right?

After the first tier, Twitter pivots to Silicon Valley’s tried-and-true policy of confusing the word “privacy” until it essentially means whatever the company is. want it to mean. In the second level, you have to swim in a “sea of ​​DM” to find the friends. You learn that you can control who sends you a direct message. The third level teaches you how to activate your precise position. The fourth level teaches you how to protect your tweets from the dreaded Trolls and Reply Guys.

You can – and you should! – modulate your ability to control who slips into your DMs and who reads your tweets. But does it give you meaningful control over your data? Nope! Keeping the creeps out of your DMs doesn’t stop your public convos from being exploited for profit, and it doesn’t stop your eyeballs from being tracked when you read or report your DMs. This tracking and targeting is, after all, how Twitter makes money at the end of the day, and something as pesky as people’s qualms about privacy won’t stop them from doing it. that.

This game may be an attempt by Twitter to trick users into following the website’s privacy policy. In that regard, it’s a step in the right direction, mainly because the current layout of privacy policies couldn’t be worse. It seems more likely that new Twitter users are playing a game by reading an incredibly long document.

But after watching our characters bounce from level to level with our little blue dog in tow, it became clear that this game is less for us – or any Twitter user, really – and more for the company itself. It’s a way to cover uncomfortable topics like ‘privacy’ and ‘consent’ and ‘ownership of our personal data’ with a little blue dog, collecting little bones as you jump through the little steps. Just promise me you won’t think about where those bones came from.