Blog Post

How to stop Twitter from seeing what mobile apps you’ve installed

In case you missed it in the run-up to the Thanksgiving weekend, [company]Twitter[/company] is rolling out a new feature called “app graph,” in which the service tracks all of the apps a user has installed on their mobile device. As my colleague Carmel DeAmicis noted when she wrote about the new feature, Twitter isn’t the only one doing this — other companies such as Facebook also do it to a limited extent, and the ability to grab this information is built into both iOS and Android.

According to Twitter, this indexing is being done to help “build a more tailored experience for you on Twitter” — in other words, to come up with recommended content you might be interested in. It plans to do this by a) using the apps to help improve “who to follow” suggestions by comparing the apps you have to those other users have, b) adding “tweets, accounts or other content to your timeline” that Twitter thinks you’ll find interesting, and c) showing you what it thinks will be more relevant “promoted content,” otherwise known as advertising.

Twitter said that the feature will start rolling out to iOS and Android users soon, and it is opt-in by default — meaning you will be targeted unless you specifically change your settings to deny the service access to your device. The company says it will notify users when the feature becomes active by displaying a prompt that says Twitter is using app information to “help tailor your experience” of the service better.

And what if you don’t want Twitter to do this? If you have already changed the settings on your device and opted out of interest-based ads — either by turning on the “Limit Ad Tracking” feature on your iOS device, or by turning on the “Opt out of interest-based ads” setting on an Android device — then Twitter won’t be able to see what apps you have installed.

But if you haven’t changed those settings, here’s how to get Twitter not to track that information:

Using Twitter for iOS:

— From the Me tab, tap the gear icon
— Select the Settings menu item
— Choose the account you’d like to change
— Under Privacy, turn off “Tailor Twitter based on my apps”

Using Twitter for Android:

— Tap the overflow icon (three dots)
— Select the Settings menu icon
— Choose the account you’d like to change
— Under Other, turn off “Tailor Twitter based on my apps”

7 Responses to “How to stop Twitter from seeing what mobile apps you’ve installed”

  1. As I use web twitter via IOS 8 Safari I get an info box at the top of the page to click here to install the Twitter app. However, I already have the Twiitter app. I simply sometimes find myself on Twitter web instead of being on the app. How do I stop being asked to install an app I already have namely Twiiter in this instance?

  2. Just turning it off doesn’t guarantee that they don’t still suck that data up. They will just (hopefully) *not* use it to tailor Twitter to you, but I would not be surprised if due to some *oversight* they still suck all that data up.

    Wise up, installed Xposed Framework, and XPrivacy. It’s the best app I’ve found that provides granular control of what you let an app do, regardless what permissions you have to accept in order to install it.

  3. I went with the nuclear option and blew away my Twitter account entirely. Call it a gesture of protest against the ongoing erosion of our privacy and rights online. I had been on the brink of doing it anyway, this was just the last straw.