Setting Preferences for Future Features Right Now

Twitter is joining the group of companies that aim to track their users’ every website visit. In this case, the tracking is supposed to serve as the foundation for “tailored suggestions” about whom to follow on Twitter.

I prefer not to be tracked this way, so I consider it a good thing that you can opt-out from this feature, if you prefer that your web habits not to be tracked.

Webpage excerpt: After signup, you can uncheck this box in your account settings next to the heading Personalization. Personalization: (checkbox) Tailor Twitter based on my recent website visits.

The bad thing is that the opt-out checkbox is missing from my settings page. In its place is a note that this feature is not available to me.

Webpage excerpt: Personalization: The feature to tailor Twitter based on your recent website visits is not available to you.

A similar note appears when I visit my Web Personalization Preview:

Webpage excerpt: (heading) Twitter cannot provide tailored suggestions. (body) Tailored suggestions are not currently available to you, and your visits to websites that have Twitter buttons or widgets are not collected to tailor your experience. Learn more about how this works and your additional privacy controls. (button) Twitter home

If things remained as they are right now, I’d be perfectly happy. Alas, the note on the Preview page includes the word “currently”, so this feature may be enabled for my account in the future.1

If I were seriously paranoid about Twitter tracking my web visits, I’d have to regularly check my preferences on the Twitter website, just in case the feature is enabled, and Twitter would not notify me about it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could simply opt-out right now?

Right now, I know that Twitter is working on a feature called “tailored suggestions”; that I do not want to use that feature; and that I (will) have to opt-out from it. Right now, I’m also viewing my Twitter Settings page. So, if that checkbox were available right now, even though the feature isn’t, I’d be done dealing with tailored suggestions for good. Right now.

Webpage excerpt: Personalization. The feature to tailor Twitter based on your recent website visits is not available to you yet. You can, however, switch tailored suggestions on or off now. The setting will be honored once this feature becomes available to you. (checkbox) Tailor Twitter based on your recent website visits as soon as this feature becomes available to you

As it is, though, I will have to wait and see whether this feature will become available and, if so, hope that Twitter will notify me about it — or that I remember to check the site myself every now and then, lest I be tracked after all.

  1. I live in Europe, and the tailored suggestions FAQ explicitly mentions that “[i]f you’re in Europe, the feature is not currently available to you […]. Thanks for your patience.” They do not elaborate, however, on whether this has anything to do with European privacy laws, etc., nor whether or when they plan to introduce the feature in this region.