Twitter Admits Plucking Contacts from Smartphones, Promises Better Transparency

Paul Lilly

Do you use Twitter's "Find Friends" feature on your Android smartphone or iPhone device? If so, you may have been agreeing to more than you bargained for. Privacy advocates are up in arms after it was discovered that Twitter has been harvesting address books from smartphones that use this feature, in many cases without proper disclosure or the user's explicit permission.

Twitter acknowledged this was the case and said it would update its app to be more clear about user contacts being transmitted and stored, the L.A. Times reports.

"We want to be clear and transparent in our communications with users," Twitter told the L.A. Times in an email. "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."

Two members of Congress, G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif) took it a step further and wrote a letter to Apple asking why it allows such data mining on its iPhone when it runs afoul of developer guidelines. Apple acknowledged that apps that do this are, in fact, "in violation of our guidelines," and claims it wasn't aware this was going on.

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