Twitter Introduces 'Do Not Track' Privacy Feature

Dennis Faas's picture

Twitter has unveiled a brand new 'Do Not Track' option that will stop the service from collecting data related to the online behavior of its users. It's a welcome change for privacy advocates.

Meanwhile, the move is prompting privacy experts to begin asking questions, such as how long Twitter has been tracking user behavior, and what kind of information it collected.

In response, Twitter representatives are deflecting such questions with a surprising argument: that tracking user behavior actually makes the service more user-friendly.

Said one Twitter spokesperson about the new 'Do Not Track' option: "Specifically, we remove from your browser the unique cookie that links your browser to visits to websites in the Twitter ecosystem. We then cannot provide tailored suggestions for you." (Source:

Auto-Activation for DNT-Enabled Browsers

Twitter members may not have to intentionally select the new 'Do Not Track" option. Rather, any visitor who signs up for a new Twitter account using a browser with the Do Not Track (DNT) settings already enabled will automatically have the DNT option activated.

Historically, the advertising industry has been opposed to the Do Not Track concept. Nevertheless, consumers have driven its increasing popularity, particularly as social media sites' coordinated advertising strategies have become more reliant on tracking users.

Tech Titans Move Against User Tracking

The popularity of Do Not Track has caught the attention of prominent companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Mozilla, which have all added some kind of anti-tracking feature to their respective browsers (though right now Google's Chrome offers only a third-party extension).

The software giants are expected to convene at the World Wide Web Consortium later this summer to go even further and create a series of Do Not Track standards. (Source:

According to eMarketer, Twitter earned $134 million in 2011 from paid advertising, and is on course to earn upwards of $260 million in 2012. What effect the new Do Not Track option will have on this revenue remains to be seen.

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