Twitter scrutinized for storing contact info

Posted by Mark Raby

If you know someone who has a Twitter account, chances are your contact info is on the site's servers, even if you've never been to Twitter.com.

The microblogging site is now admitting that users who download its smartphone app and use the "Find friends" feature are exposing their entire phone's contact list. The entire list is then stored on Twitter's servers for no shorter than 18 months.

This has sparked a modicum of outrage, especially since the app doesn't make this clear and because people who have never even used Twitter are vulnerable to their private information being stored if just one of their friends uses the app.

In response to the backlash, Twitter isn't going to change its data storage policy. Instead, it will just make it clearer to people exactly the extent of the exposure they'll commit if they click "Find friends."

In Twitter's current privacy policy, it describes the kind of data that it stores as "your IP address, browser type, the referring domain, pages visited, your mobile carrier, device and application IDs, and search terms," and then includes a blanket statement about how "other actions ... may also be included."

That vague description clearly says nothing about friends' contact info being stored, so Twitter says it will modify the language to be a bit more transparent about the whole thing.