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."
Then 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.