Summary:

In an effort to provide Pinterest users with a more personalized experience on the web, the company announced that it will begin tracking when consumers visit sites with the “Pin It” button, and then serving them up similar content.

Pinterest has added some new personalization features for users, and in order to provide some of that customization, it will draw on data from a user’s browsing history across the web — although users will be able to opt out of this feature if they’re uncomfortable with the idea.

The new personalization feature mean that if you visit a site that has the “Pin It” button installed (which is nearly every major U.S. retailer, from Target to Amazon), and then you go to Pinterest, the social media site will be able to make suggestions for content based on what you’ve browsed on those other sites. So if you’re checking out REI’s website, you might get suggestions for hiking-related pages.

If users don’t like the idea of Pinterest tracking them, they can opt out of the feature. They can do that either by making a change in their Pinterest settings, blocking Pinterest from tracking them when they first sign up, or enabling Do Not Track, which Pinterest announced on Friday it will now support.

A Pinterest spokesperson said the new personalization based on sites you visit will start appearing in the coming weeks.  The company explained in a blog post Friday morning how it will work:

“So if you’re planning a party and have gone to lots of party sites recently, we’ll try to suggest boards to make your event a hit. You can learn more about personalized pins and boards in our Help Center or updated privacy policy.

We’re excited to give everyone a more personalized experience, but we also understand if you’re not interested! We support Do Not Track, and you can change your account settings anytime.

Plenty of users might be creeped out by this feature — the idea that their browsing history on other sites could then influence what the social media site is suggesting they follow. But it’s a common practice across the web, and users can always opt out of the feature entirely. From Pinterest’s perspective, its announcement of support for Do Not Track could help it with privacy advocates.

Adding better customization makes perfect sense for Pinterest. The company has a plethora of data flowing across its site each day, but right now, the only suggestions of people to follow come from Twitter, or in related boards next to individual pins. Neither one does a great job in finding you new content that’s based around your interests.

pinterest screenshot

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