Twitter fired another salvo in the privacy wars, announcing that it will allow users to block it from recording their wanderings around the Web. Take that, Facebook!
Twitter announced plans to support the proposed Do Not Track HTTP header, a W3C standard-in-the-making that will let users keep the messaging service from tracking their browsers. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, currently a user "only needs to have logged into Facebook or Twitter once in the past month. The sites will continue to collect browsing data, even if the person closes their browser or turns of their computers, until that person explicitly logs out of their Facebook or Twitter accounts."
Twitter claims that it does not use such browsing data and deletes it "quickly," according to a Twitter spokesperson, who added that in theory Twitter could use the data to "surface better content" for users.
"Twitter didn't have any documentation on how they handled third-party browsing history," says Brian Kennish, co-founder of Disconnect Tools, which makes anti-tracking software. "I’m really glad to see Twitter make this change now."
Twitter confirmed its commitment to supporting Do Not Track via a tweet from the official @Twitter account. However, the dispatched stopped short of revealing a schedule for implementing the feature. "As the Federal Trade Commission's CTO, Ed Felten, mentioned this morning, Twitter now supports Do Not Track," said Carolyn Penner, a spokesperson for Twitter. "We applaud the FTC's leadership on Do Not Track, and are excited to provide the benefits of Do Not Track."
Still, Twitter's timing is impeccable, evoking an implicit comparison with Facebook on the eve of its highly anticipated initial public offering. Facebook has faced ongoing criticism over its privacy policies. The social networking juggernaut does not support Do Not Track.