Twitter announced that the microblogging site is joining the ranks of companies that honor user do-not-track requests. Despite the switch, federal lawmakers are still questioning the site’s data collection and retention practices.
In a recent blog post, Twitter announced a new system in which it will suggest interesting accounts to its users based on their Internet activity and other information gleaned from sites that have integrated with Twitter using buttons or widgets.
But following in the footsteps of entities Yahoo and Apple, Twitter will also allow users to adjust their account settings to stop such recommendations. In addition, Twitter will also recognize the use of a do-not-track header.
“If you have [do-not-track] enabled in your browser settings, we will not collect the information that enables this feature, so you won’t see any tailored suggestions,” the company wrote in its blog post. “We hope that our support of [do-not-track] highlights its importance as a privacy tool for consumers and creates even more interest and wider adoption across the Web.”
The move generated praise from the White House, with Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy Danny Weitzner calling it “an important step [that] is part of a larger Obama Administration strategy to encourage more consumer privacy protections on the internet.”
Even while applauding Twitter’s support for do-not-track, however, two federal lawmakers requested that the company disclose information about its data collection and tracking practices as part of its recommendation system.
Reps. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Joe Barton (D-Texas) sent a letter to the site seeking answers about what kind of personally identifiable information is collected by Twitter, how it is collected, how it is stored, how long information is kept, and how the site will honor opt-out requests from mobile devices. The legislators requested a response by June 15.
To read Twitter’s blog post about the policy changes, click here.
To read the letter from the lawmakers, click here.
Why it matters: Twitter’s acceptance of do-not-track reflects mounting support for the movement. Over the last year, sites such as Yahoo and Apple have similarly indicated their support for user preferences, while Mozilla and Microsoft have developed do-not-track settings for their browsers. It remains to be seen, however, whether such efforts by industry will stave off legislation in this area.