Twitter Stores iPhone Users’ Full Contact List For 18 Months

Do you know who has access to your private information? If you’re an iPhone user, I bet Twitter has access to more of it than you’re aware of.

By clicking the “Find Friends” feature to scan your contact list for people already on Twitter, you’ve given Twitter access to your entire contact list, and allowed them to store it in their servers for a full 18 months.

If you’ve been following the controversy around the social network Path in recent weeks, you’ll no doubt be aware that people simply do not like it when apps download private information without user consent. But the more information that comes out of this “scandal”, the more it seems like Path was just following industry standards.

The controversy bubbled to the surface earlier this month when a developer found out that Path on iPhone downloaded a user’s entire contact list to their servers when it was installed, without informing the user. Since then Path has apologized and promised to discontinue this practice.

However, it looks like Path isn’t the only company interested in accessing your contacts.

The LA Times discovered that Twitter downloads and stores all contact information – including names, email addresses and phone numbers – from a user’s iPhone when they choose to scan their contact list to see who’s already on Twitter, and they keep this data for a year and a half.

Twitter’s privacy policy doesn’t address the issue.

When the LA Times approached Twitter about their lack of transparency, spokesperson Carolyn Penner explained that they would work to being more open with their users:

“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).”

(iPhone image via Shutterstock)

Publish date: February 15, 2012 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT