Twitter Joins Google, Apple, Microsoft, Others in 'Do Not Track Effort'

Twitter’s move comes the same day that Mozilla officials tout the acceptance by Firefox users of the "Do Not Track" initiative.

Twitter is the latest online business to join the "Do Not Track" crowd, announcing the move appropriately enough in a Tweet May 17.

Carolyn Penner, a spokesperson for the social media business, said in the Tweet, €œThe Federal Trade Commission's CTO, Ed Felten, just mentioned Twitter now supports Do Not Track. We applaud the FTC's leadership on DNT."

Twitter joins a growing rank of online businesses€”including Microsoft with its Tracking Protection feature in the release candidate for Internet Explorer 9, Apple in its Safari Web browser, Google in Chrome and Mozilla with Firefox€”that are instituting Do Not Track into their offerings.

The Do Not Track effort is one of several initiatives under way to protect the privacy and personal information of online users who are increasingly wary of the amount of data that is being collected by businesses like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple, and what the companies are doing with the data. With Do Not Track, users can essentially decide against being racked by third-party advertisers who hope to use the information gleaned from users€™ online habits for more targeted advertising.

According to Mozilla officials, they are seeing greater industry adoption of and user support for the Do Not Track effort, and said the move by Twitter is part of that trend.

€œWe€™re excited that Twitter now supports Do Not Track and global user adoption rates continue to increase, which signifies a big step forward for Do Not Track and the Web,€ Alex Fowler, who heads up privacy and public policy for Mozilla, wrote in a May 17 post on the Mozilla Privacy Blog.

According to Fowler, that user acceptance can be seen in the results of a recent survey of more than 10,000 Firefox users in 140 countries. The adoption rate of Do Not Track for desktop users of Firefox is at 8.6 percent, and 19 percent for Firefox Mobile users. The highest percentage of users embracing Do Not Track is in the United States, France and the Netherlands, he said.

In addition, 49 percent of users surveyed said they believe their privacy is respected more when Do Not Track is enabled, with only 12 percent feeling the same way when the setting is not used. In addition, there is an increase in the trust users have for browsers, publishers and advertisers who support Do Not Track, Fowler wrote.

Privacy continues to be an issue for Web users. Companies like Facebook, Google and Apple, which collect vast amounts of personal data from their users€”including everything from how old they are and where they live to who their friends are, what products they like and what Websites they visit€”have been the targets of criticism from users, privacy advocates, politicians and government agencies over the past few years.

The Obama Administration also has weighed in on the debate, last year calling on Congress to pass an Internet privacy bill that would control how much information Internet marketing firms can collect as people surf the Internet.

In addition, in February the White House proposed a €œbill of rights€ to protect consumer privacy online, including an easy way for users to tell Internet companies with one click whether they want their online activity to be tracked. The Obama Administration said the U.S. Commerce Department would work with companies and privacy advocates to develop enforceable privacy policies based on the proposal.