Twitter stores address books on servers for 18 months – report

15 Feb 2012

Twitter has reportedly said that it downloads the users’ address book and keeps it on its servers for 18 months after the user presses the ‘Find friends’ feature on its smartphone app. It said it will change its privacy policy to clarify this fact.

The social networking service told the LA Times that Twitter’s current privacy policy says that Twitter users can customise their account with information such as a phone number for delivery of SMS messages or the address book to help them find other users. However, its privacy policy does not explicitly disclose that Twitter downloads and stores users’ address books.

The privacy policy points out that some sections of ‘log data’ is stored for up to 18 months. It said that this could include information such as an IP address, browser type, the referring domain, pages visited the user’s mobile carrier, device, application IDs and search terms.

Other items which could be stored include interactions with Twitter’s website, applications and advertisements.

Twitter’s spokesperson said that the company will update the “language associated with Find Friends” to make itself more clear and transparent with its communications with users. It will change “scan your contacts” to “upload” or “import” contacts. The spokesperson also said that Twitter users can have their contact database removed through their Twitter account.

The clarification comes after life journal app Path caused controversy after it was discovered that the app takes an iPhone user’s address book and uploads it to its servers without permission.

Path’s CEO Dave Morin since apologised for this, saying Path has deleted the entire collection of contact information from its servers and has issued an update to fix the error.