photo © 2006 d. FUKA | more info (via: Wylio)
A Japanese blogger nanomomonga inquired Twitter privacy support on the issue that some Japanese found to be recommended undesirable acquaintances, who should not link their real lives and secret Twitter activities, on Twitter at home and office, possibly identified by using the same global IP address.
When I wrote the last post, there were no one reporting they could reproduce to be recommended their only-common-on-the-same-network people, and I guessed that Twitter introduced it, then withdrew it.
See the mails between nanomomonga and Twitter support below. It is likely so.
nanomomonga, May-18 04:56 am (PDT):
Dear twitter support,
I think this request relates to the privacy for twitter users. (But
this is just a request/my thought, so I’m not sure replying to this
email is right or not.. Anyway,)
It seems that the user suggestion suggests me someone who uses
twitter on the same global IP address.
Although this feature is very interesting and useful for some people,
I don’t want to be found by my colleagues.
From the viewpoint of user privacy, I think there should be a setting
for the usage about the IP address, like email search.
Reply from Twitter’s TheCaptain,
TheCaptain, May-18 01:17 pm (PDT):
In the process of improving Twitter, we frequently test and adjust our algorithms with very small percentages of users. We recently did this in a way that used location as a signal in the “who to follow” feature for several days. During this test, we learned that the location signal was seen by some as too strong and created the potential to expose the holders of anonymous accounts. This test has concluded.
Twitter Trust & Safety
Although it was “with very small percentages of users” and “for several days”, they tried to improve the “who to follow” function by using more data they got from users.
This nanomomonga’s posterous account has been there for a year, and the mail address of the Twitter support is on Zendesk, which is known to be hosting Twitter mail support system. (so I assume it is not fake. I was lazy to ask Twitter by myself…)
In countries where people already devote most of their privacy to Facebook, this little experiment might not be noticed by many. And Twitter might think what is wrong to assist their users real-life networking when their competitors did. Not many people seem to protest.
However, even with few percents, this made lots of anonymity-sensitive Japanese users worried and there are tweets reporting some people have been switching to protected mode by fear of being known what they tweet anonymously from parents, siblings, school friends and colleagues.
[Update] Twitter support seems confused on firefighting. A Japanese security Engineer Yosuke Hasegawa reports that he also received this reply mail (so they prepare a template on this issue) even without asking.