That awkward moment when you talk to an acquaintance or friend, only to find out later that it’s their birthday and you said absolutely nothing about it. It happens to the best of us, sometimes even when you know they have a birthday coming up. Nowadays I rely on Facebook (News - Alert) to let me know when it is someone’s big day, thankful for the notification that “today is this friend’s (and most likely six other people’s) birthday.”
This week, Twitter (News - Alert) decided to jump on the birthday bandwagon as well. The social media platform unveiled a new option that allows its users to enter their birthday so that it can be shared with a selected audience. This could be the public, their personal followers, or a select group, depending on how many friends they’re trying to celebrate with. Or, if you’re more like me and prefer your birthday to be a little more low key, you can enter your birthday but opt not to share it with anyone.
While having your profile showered in balloons and the world knowing that you are turning another year older might be fun, there are potential downsides of this option too. Last week Twitter introduced audience insights for brands, which allows brands to more effectively find a group of users to target their ads. By sharing your birthday, you are opening yourself up to be an easier target for marketing. With the knowledge of your birthday, and therefore age, Twitter and brands can lump you into groups based on this information (high schoolers, recent college graduates, etc.), allowing them to hit you with more relevant ads. This might be a small price to pay in order to bask in the glory of a Twitter birthday celebration, but all information you share about yourself on the Internet can be potentially harmful. Ultimately it is up to the individual users to chose, and having options is always nice.