Twitter rolls out cookie-based ad targeting

SAN FRANCISCO (REUTERS) - Twitter Inc will begin showing ads to users based on their browsing history, it said on Thursday, becoming the latest Internet company to employ the controversial but increasingly widespread tracking technology.

Twitter's new advertising feature allows marketers to use cookies - small files planted in Web surfers' computers that contain bits of information about which sites they have visited or where they are logging in from - to display highly targeted Twitter ads.

Twitter, which went public last month, first announced in July that it would begin testing cookie-based ad targeting, joining the likes of Google Inc, Facebook Inc and Amazon Inc and countless other Internet companies that rely on the technology to serve ads.

Twitter's new feature, which is expected to raise advertising rates and revenues for the company, arrives in the midst of heightened public debate over the erosion of online privacy.

In recent years both the European Union and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission have probed the extent of tracking technologies used by sites like Facebook. Last year, European authorities began requiring websites to inform visitors that cookies were being placed on their computers.

Twitter said it would abide by requests to disable the feature by users who check the "Do Not Track" option in their browsers. Users can also choose not to receive "promoted content" in their Twitter privacy settings, the company said Twitter said 10 companies, including BlueKai, AdRoll and Quantcast, will initially provide the tracking data. The nascent ad network will not yet include real-time bidding technology, which competitors like Facebook have employed.

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