Google added the Do Not Track option to its Chrome browser in May 2012. Apple had added the same button to Safari in April 2011. However, the option is only as good as websites willing to honor it.
Twitter added a Do Not Track option to its own site in May 2012.
An interesting piece of this news was the revelation that Pinterest had been tracking its non-subscribers as well. The site’s cookies gathered information on non-users to give them a customized view of pins in the event that they joined.
Advertisers have been threatened by the recent push against tracking user information. They – and the companies that base their profits on advertising revenue – say customizable ads are why online advertising can be a better option than print or TV, and a requirement for the survival of for-profit online media.
But Pinterest could still be of value to brands and e-commerce sites, even if it does not build a personal profile of all or most of its users. The value of Pinterest is in directing the consumers to sites (the number and percentage of users that click on a link to a store’s webpage after seeing a post from a site can be aggregated without violating non-spying policies.) And once the user ends up on a commercial site, the brand can gather data about the consumer on its own.
So, as much as privacy advocates lauded Pinterest’s announcement, opting to not be tracked on Pinterest will bring marginal improvement in online privacy.