Twitter To Log Clicked Links

Link service rollout may cause privacy dispute

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[ Social Media]

Twitter’s link service, t.co, is designed to make shortened links easier to read and safer to follow.  Initial tests have gone well, too.  But an announcement that Twitter will start tracking every t.co link users click has caused a bit of a stir.

Twitter sent an email to users last night that in part stated, "In the coming weeks, we will be expanding the roll-out of our link wrapping service t.co, which wraps links in Tweets with a new, simplified link. . . .  When this happens, all links shared on Twitter.com or third-party apps will be wrapped with a t.co URL."

Twitter LogoThen here’s the more controversial point: "When you click on these links from Twitter.com or a Twitter application, Twitter will log that click.  We hope to use this data to provide better and more relevant content to you over time."

So it looks like a (small) loss of privacy will prove unavoidable, with no opt-outs or anything of that sort having been mentioned.

Declan McCullagh noted that, as a result, "[A] security breach at a Twitter data center could reveal who’s clicking on what links . . . .  Police armed with search warrants in criminal investigations may have link-clicking questions they want answered.  Divorce attorneys armed with subpoenas won’t be far behind.  And, in general, users may not expect this data about their behavior to be stored forever."

It should be interesting to see if this becomes a significant problem, or if, between some users not grasping the issue and others more or less understanding that most of their online movements are tracked, anyway, Twitter avoids any turmoil.

Twitter To Log Clicked Links
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  • Guest

    Hey, where’s the news? Each site have logs of what people have done, went, clicked or searched. So how is this “announcement” different from existing ones?

  • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

    Honestly, I wish I had the ability and a site like Bit.Ly where I can see how many clicks my t.CO links are getting, this will benefit advertisers, but this rule does make it pointless to use bit.ly and other URL shorteners at all if Twitter wraps around them all, no reason to double decode a URL, there is no benefit and can lead to false analytics.

    I agree that tracking clicks can be worrisome, but depends on what they track? Source IP, or just general information like client type, geographic location…etc. If source IP isn’t tracked and you don’t track which specific twitter user clicked the link, then it doesn’t lead to audit concerns. Though if Twitter.com tracks and shows “who clicked your link” specifically allowing you to retrieve the username via API this could be both beneficial to advertisers looking to know how to effectively market and with hom, but compromise privacy.

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