Twitter’s New Tailored Model: Personalization Through Tracking

Twitter has made it easier for users to find people who are tweeting about subjects most relevant to them.

The microblog tracks users’ Web browsing data while they are logged in to Twitter and offers a unique list of users who tend to be followed by others who visit the same sites. New cookie technology, combined with the page visit information Twitter receives from embedded buttons and widgets on Web sites, enables it to make the suggestions.

For example, if you visit sports Web sites, Twitter may suggest teams and players that are popular and widely followed by other Twitter users who visit those sites.

"Tailored suggestions make building a great timeline—filled with tweets, links, media and conversations from the people you’re interested in—easier and faster. Twitter can now make smarter and more relevant suggestions about who you might enjoy following," says Twitter on its customer support page.

The feature is designed to keep Twitter in step with the evolving interests of its users. However, the tracking of Web data has been known to rub Internet users the wrong way—just ask Facebook or Google.

For those concerned about Twitter tracking their moves across the Web and would rather not receive tailored suggestions, the feature can be turned off here. (Twitter also has a "Do Not Track" browser setting to stop the collection of all information—click here to learn more and to turn it on.) New Twitter users can uncheck the box that says "Tailor Twitter based on my recent Web site visits."

Twitter has increasingly sought ways to generate ad dollars, as seen in its recent work with NASCAR to build a hashtag landing page. However, the tailored suggestions feature is not part of that strategy. Twitter says it is not using visits to pages in the Twitter ecosystem for advertising purposes and has no plans to do so—nor will it sell any user information to third parties.

To see which accounts Twitter would recommend for you to follow, visit your personalized preview page. 

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg

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