Is Twitter Storing Your Address Book?
Microblogging site Twitter has admitted this week that users that access the site via their smartphones could be giving the website access to their entire address book.
The company announced that when users access the 'find friends' feature on their smartphone their entire address book is then downloaded to Twitter servers, often without the users permission or knowledge.
The practice was discovered by an app developer based in Singapore who noticed how his personal contacts were copied from his iPhone by the social network Path. Path subsequently apologized and updated its policy so that users would need to opt-in to sharing their address books.
Despite the practice apparently breaking Apple's app developer guidelines it does appear to be widespread, with the likes of Facebook, FourSquare and Instagram also accessing the address book of users without their permission.
The Apple guidelines say: "Apps that read or write data outside its designated container area will be rejected."
They add: "Apps cannot transmit data about a user without obtaining the user's prior permission."
"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," Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner said.
Considering that Apple's own social media policy makes a point of employees respecting the privacy of colleagues and suppliers when they use social media, it is a quite considerable oversight by the company.