Twitter signs up for Do Not Track

In fewer than 140 characters, Twitter has ended months of pressure by announcing that it’s to join the ‘Do not Track’ initiative.

“The Federal Trade Commission’s CTO, Ed Felten, just mentioned Twitter now supports Do Not Track. We applaud the FTC’s leadership on DNT,” tweeted social media business spokesperson Carolyn Penner.

The company joins companies including Microsoft, Apple, Google and Mozilla that are supporting the FTC initiative, aimed at giving users control over when and how their personal data is shared with third parties such as advertisers.

“When you turn on DNT in your browser, we stop collecting the information that allows us to tailor Twitter based on your recent visits to websites that have integrated our buttons or widgets,” says the company.

“Specifically, we remove from your browser the unique cookie that links your browser to visits to websites in the Twitter ecosystem.”

Indeed, the company plans to turn cookies off by default in certain circumstances – when new users sign up for the service with DNT already enabled, for example, or those who have previously enabled DNT before the launch of personalized suggestions.

The move has been welcomed by privacy organizations.

“If nothing else, this is a good opportunity for everyone to reconsider the nature of our highly trackable online lives, where corporations we do and don’t have relationships with can vacuum up highly sensitive data about what we do on the web and even a savvy user can’t win the arms race against online tracking,” says Rainey Reitman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The move will increase pressure on Facebook, which has steadfastly ignored calls to implement Do Not Track.

“In the wake of Twitter’s decision to respect Do Not Track, we’re calling on other social networking sites to start respecting user choice as well,” says Reitman.