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Twitter Wants To Spy On Your Mobile Apps

New update lets Twitter gather more data for advertisers.

Twitter Wants To Spy On Your Mobile Apps
[Photo: Flickr user Pedro Gómez]

Twitter claims to be making yet another change to give users better content recommendations–and give itself more information to sell ads. Recently, it started showing users tweets they might enjoy from accounts they do not follow. Twitter’s next step to make this function better? Finding out which other apps a user has on their smartphone.

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It’s mildly invasive, but it makes a certain amount of sense. Say, if a user also has Spotify on their device, a targeted ad or sponsored post from the artist with the most streams that day could be effective. The new tracking could also help with Twitter’s attempts to provide new users with pre-populated timelines. Instead of being welcomed with blank space, a new user will automatically be following certain popular and relevant accounts. Knowing the sort of apps that new user has on their phone can better hone that curation process.

For long-time users who are set in their ways when it comes to their Twitter habits, this will undoubtedly be seen as yet another way to be inundated with promoted or suggested tweets. Chances are these users are already following the accounts for their other apps (or the websites those apps are connected to), and this will not be a huge concern. For some it may actually be helpful and lead to new or undiscovered accounts.

Of course the “creepy” aspect of this is not hard to imagine. No one is saying that Twitter is going to scan your phone and find out your bank account information or the information you have stored in iOS 8’s Health app, but what exactly is stopping them from doing so?

Ultimately, it’s another step toward the Facebookization of Twitter. Facebook does this already, and now, much like that site and app, what was once more about sending out bursts of information is more about bundling user data for advertisers.

While intrusive, the function is opt-out and Twitter has the relatively simple steps users can take to turn off the app-tracking option here.

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