The New York Times Bits blog reports
It’s no secret that Facebook is worth about $100 billion because it collected personal data about its users. A lot of data.
Although Twitter tracks its users too — albeit in a much less aggressive way — the company has decided to take a different route. It announced Thursday that it is joining Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox Web browser, and giving its users the ability to opt-out of being tracked in any way through Twitter.
Twitter is doing this by enabling the Do Not Track feature in the Firefox browser that enables people to opt-out of cookies that collect personal information and any third-party cookies, including those used for advertising. The Do Not Track functionality will only work if a Web site agrees to acknowledge it.
Couple this action with Twitter’s recent vigorous resistance to turning over information about a user who was part of the Occupy Wall Street ‘movement’.
Because Twitter’s focus is more about the news and information that a user passes along vs. the user itself, they can play thins kind of user friendly game MUCH more easily than Facebook can. Facebook is completely dependent on the individual characteristics and data of users so advertisers can decide who they want to target. Twitter, on the other hand, is driven by keywords and hashtags which are different forms of determining what a Twitter user may or may not want to see with regards to ads.
Has Twitter found a way to further differentiate and distance itself from Facebook and even Google in the privacy realm? If yes then they have scored a rather large coup. Let’s face it, no matter what happens in Friday’s IPO Facebook will always be positioned as a necessary evil by users. This love / hate relationship is one that makes Facebook more susceptible to the whims of the individual especially if they are feeling wronged by the service (and, of course, another viable social option exists which is a big question mark).
Twitter is saying “Hey, it’s cool if we don’t have more data on you than you would like us to have.” and that is like a blast of fresh air in the day and age of ‘nothing is sacred or private in the online world.” Twitter is already different but this makes it more so and that is a very good thing for them and for users.
What’s another advantage of Twitter’s move in this direction. Well, how about having the news be “announced” by a high ranking official of the FTC? Yup, that’s the government telling an Internet company “Nice work!”. To Twitter that is priceless.
Carolyn Penner, a spokeswoman for Twitter, said in a statement, “As the Federal Trade Commission’s CTO, Ed Felten, mentioned this morning, Twitter now supports Do Not Track.” Ms. Penner added: “We applaud the FTC’s leadership on Do Not Track, and are excited to provide the benefits of Do Not Track.”
Twitter has been laying low as of late which isn’t hard to do in this Facebook IPO feeding frenzy. Maybe we should already start to ignore the IPO and see what the competition is doing? After all, unless you are getting rich from this IPO it should be business as usual and, despite the hype, there is much more to the social marketing world than just Facebook. Thank God for that.