In 140 characters or less: Twitter is stealing and harvesting all of your information without your consent.  #uncool

Whenever users click on the "Find Friends" feature on the app, Twitter searches throughout your phone's contacts and suggests people you know. So, no, it's not a coincidence that some random ex-hookup (whose number was in your phone) has suddenly shown up in your news feed.

This came to light when an app developer, Arun Thampi, saw that his contacts were copied, without his consent, to the social-networking site, Path. The CEO of Path, Dave Morin, apologized, and then promised that Path would start asking permission before they copied all of their information.

The Twitter app not only goes through all your private contacts, but stores your information on a server for eighteen months. Much like the clause that Apple buried in their iTunes user agreement that allowed them to track and store your movements, Twitter's actions aren't fully disclosed to the users. (As far as Apple's part of it, two congressmen have asked the company why they willingly participate in the sharing of private information, which actually violates their own guidelines: "Apps that read or write data outside its designated area will be rejected.")

Twitter responded to all the criticism by saying that they'd let their users know before they rifle and harvest all of our friends and hook-ups. But be honest, America: you'd still let them do it anyway, right? The whole point of social media is to connect; and, more importantly, re-connect with people from our past. That said, I'd like to be alerted before it happens.

Tags Apple Twitter

Commentarium (3 Comments)

Feb 16 12 - 1:22pm
Jeff @ DTM

So, not stealing or harvesting... it would be that if they didn't tell you they were doing it, which they do, plus, the whole idea of the thing is that it's looking through your contacts to find other users... Did you think it was happening via magic?

These things are spelled out for people like you in the Ts & Cs, which you never read; and no, they shouldn't make it more obvious... that's what the Ts & Cs are for. Your site uses them, too, but it's not trendy to bust blogs for privacy information.

Now, get off the high horse and decide, if you don't want this to happen, then don't use the service, or at least, that part of the service.

Feb 16 12 - 2:58pm
Nimajneb

@Jeff,

This is exactly why I don't use that part of the service. If I'm too goddamn lazy to find these people I consider "friends" through my own methods of search then I'm not going to friend or follow them.

I have huge reservations with using social media in the first place; privacy being the main bullet point. I know that the Ts & Cs are quite thorough explaining the implications of using the service, for better or worse, but as far as the majority of users are concerned there is too much legalese to wade through when you just want to signed up and stalk the girl at the bar you met the previous night.

On the flip side of the coin, it's good that benign things like this happen to let people know that the internet is just as dangerous than the real world so that it can be objectively brought to the offending companies attention so that they can be held accountable for shady practices like this.

Feb 17 12 - 7:18am
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