Twitter downloads your entire address book—
Anyone who uses Twitter’s mobile app is familiar with the Find Friends feature. Hit the little button and Twitter automatically searches for people on Twitter that you may know.
What wasn’t made clear to users was that the Twitter app downloads their entire address book—complete with all email addresses and phone numbers on servers for 18 months.
Citizen rights watchdog groups and individuals are crying “foul” over this perceived violation of privacy and Twitter execs are scrambling to put a lid on the tempest in a teapot.
Punching the “Find Friends” button seems innocent enough and Twitter does make an oblique reference to what it will do if you want to find friends on Twitter by saying:
“[Twitter] may customize your account with information such as a cellphone number for the delivery of SMS messages or your address book so that we can help you find Twitter users you know.”
But what users didn’t know was the extent of Twitter digging into their address book.
Because of the state of the nebulous wording about what happens when mobile phone users ask Twitter to search for friends, the company will reword and clarify its policy.
Carolyn Penner, a spokeswoman for Twitter said:
“We want to be clear and transparent in our communications with users.
“Along those lines, in our next app updates, which are coming soon, we are updating the language associated with Find Friends — to be more explicit. In place of ‘Scan your contacts,’ we will use ‘Upload your contacts’ and ‘Import your contacts’ (in Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android, respectively).”
What do they really do with the data?
Although the collection of address book data is apparently used to match fellow Twitter users, the potential for using this information for profit is real.
With literally millions of email addresses and phone numbers stored on Twitter servers, this can be a gold mine of contact information for advertisers and businesses.
At the moment, the specific uses of address book data is still unclear for many Twitter users.
Via LA Times
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Written by: Frank Ling on Thursday, February 16, 2012 – 11:26 AM