In a blog post today, Twitter announced that it was "experimenting with new ways of targeting ads", which is its way of saying it's planning to track you around the web -- even when you leave Twitter -- and relay that information to advertisers to craft better ads. Here's how to opt out.
If this sounds familiar, it should. Twitter started experimenting with this kind of off-site tracking a year ago, only then it wasn't explicitly opt-out. Twitter already uses things like Follow buttons and social widgets on websites to see where its logged in users go after they leave Twitter itself, but now it's putting it in print, and that's actually a good thing.
To turn off Twitter's new tracking:
- Log in to Twitter and visit your account settings page.
- Uncheck the box that says "Tailor Twitter based on my recent website visits".
- Uncheck the box that says "Tailor ads based on information shared by ad partners".
- Scroll down and click "Save Changes".
If you have Do Not Track enabled in your web browser, you'll see the checkbox like mine above that indicates it's enabled and neither of the boxes should be checked.
On the bright side, at least Twitter is being above board with its changes (unlike Facebook when it started doing the same thing) -- they say that users won't see more ads on Twitter, just better ones, as a result of the tracking.
At the same time, it's one thing to use data collected while someone uses your service to improve your advertising -- it's another to continue collecting data when someone leaves your service in order to improve your advertising. Still, opting out is easy, and we suggest you do it as soon as possible. For more tips on how to protect yourself from this kind of tracking, check out our guide to stopping everyone from tracking you on the web, and the best browser tools to protect your privacy.