Twitter implements 'Do Not Track'

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Twitter will give its users the choice to opt-out of being tracked in any way.

The micro-blogging site will make use of the 'Do Not Track' feature in Firefox that lets users opt-out of cookies that can collect personal information and third-party cookies. The feature, however, only works when the Web site acknowledges it.

The chief technology officer for the Federal Trade Commission made the announcement of Twitter's support for the initiative, at an Internet Week privacy panel, in New York. Twitter then confirmed it via a tweet and on the company blog.

Cookies can be used for a number of reasons, including storing information about users and often for targeted advertising. Privacy advocates have previously come down hard on companies like Google and Facebook for their tracking of user activity - even beyond their own sites.

While Twitter also tracks users, it is to a much lesser extent than its competitors. Tracking in Twitter's case is used to store information that informs its customised user suggestions. Twitter has said the Do Not Track function will have no impact on its advertising model.

Tailored Twitter

At the same time, Twitter has also announced it is improving its customised suggestions for users - especially first time users. Director of growth and international, Othman Laraki, says: “Currently, when new users come to Twitter, we show them all almost the same suggestions for what or who to follow. That isn't ideal. Since you have individual interests, you should get individual suggestions.

“After all, even though millions of people love Justin Bieber, FC Barcelona or Kim Kardashian, not everyone using Twitter may want to follow them.”

Laraki says Twitter is beginning some experiments with tailored suggestions in a number of countries. The first experiment will show suggested accounts to follow, as well as an example of what the timeline will look like with those tweets.

“These tailored suggestions are based on accounts followed by other Twitter users and visits to Web sites in the Twitter ecosystem. We receive visit information when sites have integrated Twitter buttons or widgets, similar to what many other Web companies - including LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube - do when they're integrated into Web sites. By recognising which accounts are frequently followed by people who visit popular sites, we can recommend those accounts to others who have visited those sites within the last 10 days,” explains Laraki.

Laraki adds those who do not want to “tailor Twitter” can use the Do Not Track function. “We hope that our support of DNT highlights its importance as a privacy tool for consumers and creates even more interest and wider adoption across the Web.”

This feature can be enabled or disabled via the new “Personalisation” section under Twitter's account settings.

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