In an effort to improve the effectiveness of targeted ads, Twitter will begin tracking user data even outside the Twitter app, and storing that information for up to a month. The current maximum is 10 days, and data is collected only within the Twitter app.
This new tracking will come courtesy of the “Follow” and “Tweet” buttons that appear on the bottom of almost every web site these days. Any time a user visits a site with those buttons while they’re logged in to their Twitter account, information will be sent to Twitter about what page the user was on. A cookie is then installed to create a profile of the user’s browsing history, whether they’re using Twitter or not.
Previously, Twitter offered support for a bit of technology called “Do Not Track,” which lets users essentially opt out of any third party tracking. Now, Twitter will be getting rid of DNT support, instead going with a tool from the Digital Advertising Alliance called WebChoices, which doesn’t provide nearly the same level of protection. It allows users to opt out of targeted ads, but it will still collect their information either way.
There actually is a way to opt out of the new privacy settings, but it’s a bit cumbersome, and needs to be done from both the Twitter app and the Twitter web site. If you’re curious to see the data Twitter has already collected on you, you can do so by following this link to your account settings.
These changes are slated to take effect June 18.