Thursday, November 27, 2014

Twitter is about to spy on what other apps you have installed

Twitter grew by allowing anyone to quickly plugin into its service, promoting the development of 3rd party apps and services. Those days are long gone, and you can find countless services that have been shut down because Twitter "changed it's mind". Now, Twitter goes even further to make it's users rethink how they feel about this service, by spying on what other apps you have installed.

Twitter has been angering users left and right, pushing unwanted content to their timelines - once the place where you'd only see what you wanted to see. And as such, this new app spying feature will be used for:
  • Improved “who to follow” suggestions that share similar interests.
  • Adding Tweets, accounts, or other content to your timeline that we think you'll find especially interesting.
  • Showing you more relevant promoted content.
Meaning... more unwanted content. At the very least Twitter should give users the option to opt out of "suggested" content; but considering that this spying feature is not even opt-in (you'll have to manually turn it off yourself), I wouldn't count on it getting implemented soon.

As a matter of fact, instead of simply turning off this snooping feature on Twitter, you can go into your system settings on your iOS or Android device, and enable "Limit Ad Tracking" (on iOS) and "Opt out of interest-based ads" (on Android). That way, you'll have some less "tracking" concerns to worry about, tough I'm surprised to see Twitter acknowledge it takes this setting into consideration, and won't snoop on you if you have it enabled... or so they say. Guess we'll have to wait until some network expert checks out what data Twitter is sending them, and make sure it's really doing what it's saying.

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