When you’re browsing the Internet, data is constantly being collected on your browsing patterns — what did you click on? What did you search for? How long did you keep a page open. This behavioral data helps search engines like Google and social networks like Facebook serve you personalized, targeted advertisements. It’s a highly efficient means of increasing the revenue these organizations generate through advertisements.
What is Do Not Track?
Many have expressed concerns over the privacy hell that this might lead to. Advocates of online privacy maintain that users must be able to choose whether they would like their traces tracked by websites or not. In an effort of giving users that choice, the Do Not Track functionality was proposed for browsers. With Do Not Track enabled, your browser will indicate to web applications not to drop self or third-party tracking cookies on your computer, thereby honoring your request of opting out from being tracked online.
Most major browsers like Firefox, Opera, IE, and Safari have incorporated support for Do Not Track, the only browser yet to do that is Google Chrome, we’ll leave it for you to wonder why (no points for guessing).
Twitter extends support
Below is the tweet from Twitter’s official account confirming their support for Do Not Track.
The Federal Trade Commission’s CTO, Ed Felten, just mentioned Twitter now supports Do Not Track. We applaud the FTC’s leadership on DNT.
— Twitter (@twitter) May 17, 2012
The effort is admirable seeing as Twitter only recently began generating revenue by means of Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts, the fact that they’re willing to put that at risk by offering users more privacy is worth noting. As for Facebook and Google, no official announcements yet, though Google did mention that a Do Not Track enabled Chrome will be out late 2012.
This of course, isn’t good news for online ad networks or companies spending money in online advertising because personalization has so far been the mainstay of revenue generation online.