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Twitter will start cataloging your app installs
That might be embarrassing.
Twitter is getting a little more intimate with your mobile device. If you’ve downloaded the Twitter app, the company will start cataloging other apps you’ve downloaded in order to—say it with me now—serve up more targeted advertising.
Twitter’s Help Center page describes the list of your downloaded applications as the “app graph.” Twitter says it is only collecting the list of applications that you’ve installed, not any data or personal information associated with them.
According to the company, in addition to advertising purposes, app install data will be used to give better suggestions on who to follow as well as improve those algorithmic-based tweets Twitter is now shoving in your home timeline. Last month, Twitter rolled out a feature that shows people tweets from accounts they don’t follow, a move that rankled Twitter users who only want real-time tweets and updates in their feed.
The app data collection is turned on by default, so if you don’t want Twitter knowing which apps you download, you have to turn it off in the application’s privacy settings. Though if you’ve already opted out of interest-based ads within the app, your app installs will not be tracked. Twitter will alert you in the app when this feature is turned on, so you can opt-out immediately.
This is the company’s latest effort to become more aware of your data and how you use mobile applications in order to improve advertising. Twitter recently released information about a brain study that describes how Twitter useage can drive purchasing decisions, and an offer feature that lets people turn their credit card into a coupon simply by tapping a tweet.
As Recode notes, both Android and iOS operating systems allow third-parties to track this kind of data, so developers can determine what apps you have on your phone at any given time, though there is no personal data attached to it.
Facebook, another social network that relies on personal information to sell advertising, collects information about which apps you have installed, though only from apps that have installed the Facebook software developer kit, for instance, apps that use Facebook advertising or Facebook Login.
Twitter is amping up its efforts to get more people using its product by simplifying the account creation process and giving people an Instant Timeline, and by curating tweets based on interests. But as it tries to get more users, Twitter is also trying to get more advertisers, turning people and their data on the real-time social network into the product.
Selena Larson is a technology reporter based in San Francisco who writes about the intersection of technology and culture. Her work explores new technologies and the way they impact industries, human behavior, and security and privacy. Since leaving the Daily Dot, she's reported for CNN Money and done technical writing for cybersecurity firm Dragos.