Home Why The Hell Does Twitter Want To Know About Your Apps?

Why The Hell Does Twitter Want To Know About Your Apps?

Here in the U.S., there’s two things we never seem to get enough of—stuff to buy and violated privacy. Twitter will contribute to the bottomless cornucopia of both via its new app graph, the company announced Wednesday. According to a post on the its support blog, Twitter will now keep track of every app you’ve downloaded on your smartphone.

Notably, Twitter points out that it’s not tracking what you do on your apps, just which apps you have on your smartphone. More information about the stuff you like means targeted ads you’re more likely to click on in your Twitter experience. It’s a lot like Facebook—which also tracks any smartphone apps made with the social network’s developers kit. Only this time it’s Twitter. 

See also: Search All The Tweets! Twitter Now Indexed All The Way Back To 2006

Of course, like any savvy social network in the post-Facebook era, Twitter presents this latest privacy rollback as if it’s a service that benefits you, the valued user (emphasis added):

To help build a more personal Twitter experience for you, we are collecting and occasionally updating the list of apps installed on your mobile device so we can deliver tailored content that you might be interested in. 

Twitter does delineate a couple of app-tracking benefits, the first two of which may help engage new users. Politely, it saves its own financial interests for the third example, “promoted content”—i.e., which brands pay Twitter to throw in your timeline:

  • Improved “who to follow” suggestions that share similar interests.
  • Adding Tweets, accounts, or other content to your timeline that we think you’ll find especially interesting.
  • Showing you more relevant promoted content.

Twitter’s app tracking starts rolling out today for iOS, and in the coming weeks for Android. You’ll know it’s hit your account when you activate your Twitter app and a prompt appears advising you how to adjust your ad-tracking settings.

Twitter won’t start tracking your apps until you’ve received the prompt, and you can opt out of the tracking completely, if you don’t ignore the notice. Otherwise, expect to start seeing ads more succinctly tailored to the Candy Crush user or Uber rider with an integrated premium Spotify account.

Photo by Jason Howie


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