Twitter Makes Changes to Privacy Policy with Big Impact on Blogs

Actually, it appears the new changes will have a big impact on any website that embeds tweets or a timeline. You know, like the one over on the sidebar of this page. Apparently, as part of Twitter’s new policies, they are using those embeds to extend their reach for personalized advertisements, tracking not only what you look at and click on in your own Twitter feed, but also what other websites you visit and what tweets they display.

Which sounds invasive, but isn’t really all that different than what Facebook and Google already do.

The interesting part for me, as a blogger, was this snippet:

If you use embedded Tweets or embedded timelines on your sites, you must provide your users with notice that fully discloses Twitter’s collection and use of data about users’ browsing activities on your website, including for interest-based advertising and personalization. You must also obtain legally sufficient consent from users for such collection and use, and provide legally sufficient instructions on how users can opt out of Twitter’s interest-based advertising and personalization as described here11.’

Just how does Twitter expect me to do this? I suppose I’m going to either stop displaying any embedded information from Twitter, or bug every visitor to agree to something Twitter might be doing before letting them continue to my website. And that will just be the start of it. Eventually, I suppose, I’ll have to do the same for every other service I embed information from.

That seems… not ideal. It also seems odd that Twitter is somehow placing the responsibility for informing users of the data they are collecting on me, when I’m not collecting any data myself.

Apparently the new policies go into effect in about a month, so I have some time to find a better solution, but my gut reaction is to stop embedding anything from Twitter, which is really their loss too.

In the mean time, I’ll keep my eyes open for a better solution. Or at least a better explanation of why Twitter is demanding website owners take responsibility for their behavior.

Anyone else thinking of ditching embeds from Twitter?

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  1. I don’t embed often, and when I do, I usually use a screen cap. I’m assuming disclosures wouldn’t need to be displayed with a screen cap.

    1. Yeah a screencap would not fall under this policy, which is maybe what we’d have to switch to doing since it’s not pulling anything from Twitter for them to track. For a lot of websites though, the embedded timeline feature has been nice. A little “hey, if you don’t already follow me on twitter, here’s what I’ve been posting over there” type of advertisement not just for my Twitter profile, but for the service itself. Twitter has for years encouraged site owners to build those sorts of things, there’s even a Jetpack widget in WordPress for it. And now, just by taking advantage of that, Twitter is making it my responsibility to not only “get permission” from users before showing it, but also keep up with changes to their policies and make sure I’m notifying my visitors of it. That’s way too much effort.

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