Twitter stands to benefit from tighter regulation of personal info, says former CEO Dick Costolo

Key Points
  • In the shadow of European privacy regulation, big social media companies are pulling out all stops to sway the hand of lawmakers in the U.S.
  • But for Twitter, which doesn't need as much data from users to be profitable, doesn't have as much work to do to scrub that information, former CEO Dick Costolo said.
Jack Dorsey is getting all the credit he deserves now, says former CEO

As tighter privacy regulations loom in Europe, American tech companies are trying to curry favor with lawmakers in the U.S. But Twitter stands to benefit from stricter privacy regulations by making it "distinct from the competitive landscape," according to former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.

"For years, marketers and others have thought that Twitter is at a disadvantage to Facebook in terms of being able to micro-target and use personally identifiable information to really get at details of who people are, where to reach them and what to say to them," Costolo said on CNBC's "Squawk Alley."

"Twitter doesn't need that information to be as successful as they've already been, and, therefore, doesn't have as much work to do to scrub that information," he added.

Costolo, who was CEO of Twitter from 2010 to 2015 and served as COO prior to that, said Twitter is designed to keep its users anonymous.

"Lots of Twitter accounts don't have personally identifiable information and there are lots of great reasons for that. People in countries where political speech is oppressed don't want to be able to be identified easily," he said.

Costolo said the data that is available, like tweets and tagged locations, is already made public by users. Third parties, including advertisers and universities, can use that information for research, like predicting cultural trends. While that type of data may not be the best for pulling advertising revenue, it may prove advantageous as regulations tighten, Costolo said.

"It's these other companies that are going to have to do more work and jump through more hoops to make sure they can comply with those regulations," Costolo said.