Twitter is tracking the apps on your phone

3 Comments

In its latest effort to improve its ad targeting, Twitter will start collecting information on what mobile apps its users have downloaded.

If you’re in the Pandora camp instead of the Spotify camp, Twitter will know. Harbor a penchant for celebrity gossip with both the TMZ and Perez Hilton app in your arsenal? Twitter will know. If you’re on a diet and you’re tracking your calories with an app, Twitter will know.

The company says it’s using the information to benefit you, by improving its recommendation engines on other Twitter accounts you should follow. As mentioned in the Twitter Analyst Call, an “instant timeline” for new users is also on its way. Information on what apps a person has downloaded could help Twitter build that.

The second purpose, one not mentioned by Twitter in its blog post, is the holy grail of free consumer web companies: Ad targeting. Twitter needs as much information as possible to woo marketers on mobile. A list of what apps someone follows is more fuel.

As Re/Code pointed out, Twitter is not the only one doing this. Other apps are able to ping iOS and Android systems to get similar information, and Facebook tracks users apps through the network of companies using its SDK.

Twitter’s app tracking is opt-out, meaning unless you tell Twitter not to track your apps in your phone’s settings, it will. Click here for the opt-out directions. The update reportedly rolls out today for iOS and later this week for Android.

3 Comments

Alex

The set of installed apps is more or less constant. If the feature is opt-out, doesn’t it mean that by the time you disable it, Twitter knows all your installed apps already?

Anonymous

“Twitter’s app tracking is opt-out, meaning unless you tell Twitter not to track your apps in your phone’s settings, it will. Click here for the opt-out directions. ”

Knowing that users rarely change out of default settings, these should always be “Opt-In” where privacy is concerned.

Uninstalling the App now. I don’t support anything that puts its advertisement data before user privacy.

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