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Twitter admits to storing iPhone contact info for 18 months

updated 10:20 pm EST, Tue February 14, 2012

Company criticized for holding data

Twitter has reportedly admitted that it currently stores smartphone contact information for 18 months after users initiate the "find friends" feature found in the company's mobile apps. The data stored on the company's servers includes address book fields such as names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

The company has been criticized for failing to explicitly notify users that the data is being transmitted to remote servers and stored. The apps merely note that the software will "scan your contacts for people you already know on Twitter."

Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner has responded to the situation, claiming that a future app update will clarify the language to avoid any misunderstanding regarding the scanning and storage methods.

"We want to be clear and transparent in our communications with users," Penner wrote in an e-mail, which was posted by LA Times. "In place of 'Scan your contacts,' we will use 'Upload your contacts' and 'Import your contacts.""

The disclosure comes just weeks after another app developer, Path, was criticized for collecting and storing users' contact lists when iPhone users first launched its app. The company later apologized and updated its app to ask permission before uploading the data.

Twitter plans to update both its iOS and Android apps, though a release timeframe remains unclear.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    these developers are such...

    B.S. artists. Are they claiming ignorance? Bad choice of words/phrases? Who do they hire to put a little QA in their products? Have they denied SELLING any of this information since so many celebrities are such PR hogs?

  1. drbenru

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not making excuses for them...

    But at least it notified me that to find friends it would scan my contacts. Since I don't trust any apps with my personal info I declined. I also declined Facebook, and I had to use a third party tool to update the pictures on my contacts with Facebook ones. What Path did, and I believe at one point the official fb app did as well, was upload your contacts without any user interaction.

    It was interesting to learn that no known Mac apps steal your contact info, even though the API for access to Address Book has been in Mac OS since 10.2. We obviously live in a different world now, and Apple should not give free access to contacts without explicit permission, like they do for location information...

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969


    options might improve... is one thing to search & link remotely, another to upload/harvest without informed consent...

    ...this seeming a legitimate issue of third party disclosure - how many are agreeing to upload possibly personal information stored about others, without the knowledge or permission of those especially who might otherwise decline?

    Datamining companies in the end may plead 'we didn't click yes' however one might ask if such services logically have a duty to clearly inform a non-technical customer of any potential legal breach/liability they might be committing or even acquiescing to in exchange for the consideration/value of the social media services to be provided...?

    By way of alternative example is it reasonable to ask a customer to comprehend the 40+ pages of legalese in 'agreement' required by some download services to license even a free 'song of the week' ? CDs don't require this? How much might this and not the cost in the end appeal many to simply download...?

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Sucky suck suck

    Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner has responded to the situation, claiming that a future app update will clarify the language to avoid any misunderstanding regarding the scanning and storage methods.

    So instead of changing the app to NOT harvest and store contacts (which would be the most "right" thing to do), they're simply going to change the fine-print to indicate that they're harvesting and storing your contacts' info and keep on keepin' on with the information gathering.

    Why not just do exactly what the app currently says? "Scan" my contacts, link my account to those contacts, then get rid of the information used to make those links?

  1. DerekMorr

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Glad to see Apple is so successful at keeping malware like this out of the App Store.

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