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Twitter Will Soon Track Your App Downloads

Never Surrender! Never Retweet!

Today, Twitter announced a brand new feature that will helpfully track every single app you download to your phone and use it to bring you relevant adverts and sponsored tweets. As you can imagine, people aren't too keen on the idea.

Whether this falls onto the Facebook side of user privacy or not is up for debate, but many have taken to the internet to criticise Twitter for its apparent big-brother techniques. In the (abridged) words of the people: what we do on Twitter is between them and us; what we do elsewhere on our phones is nobody’s business but our own.

twitter update
source: 42.tut.by

Fortunately, unlike a Facebook Atlas or a Google search, Twitter will give us the ability to turn their new anti-consumer feature off from the get-go. While people seem unimpressed with the feature, they’ve been a little less reluctant to go full-on rage mode than usual due to Twitter’s insistence that it can be turned off with ease.

If this wasn't the case, I have no doubt that the Twittersphere would be full of anti-Twitter rants and angry hashtags. They’ve shared this info from the beginning, though, and stifled a revolution before it had a real reason to begin.

National news outlets haven’t been afraid to take this and run with it. The Independent, as opposed to creating an objective article informing people of Twitter's new update, ran with the following headline: “Twitter is watching how you use your phone — but it can be stopped”. In other words, they assumed that, upon learning about Twitter’s latest trick, all people would care about would be stopping it from actually being used. 

The rest of their article simply explains how to turn the 'spying' off.

And other news outlets appear to have followed their angle

twitter app update
source: techtimes.com

Soon, I’ll teach you how to turn the feature off. First, though, my spirit of fair play is insisting I explain Twitter’s reasoning for the update. After all, they’ll be well aware how passionately people defend their online rights. With that in mind, here's some of what their official blog post had to say about the update:

“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."

"If you have previously opted out of interest-based ads by turning on “Limit Ad Tracking” on your iOS device or by adjusting your Android device settings to “Opt out of interest-based ads,” we will not collect your apps unless you adjust your device settings.”

twitter app update
source: twitter.com

While the change will usually make Twitter soak up your data from the start, the setting will be defaulted to 'off' if you have previously opted out of Twitter’s older ad tracking services. Very fair - at least, as far as social media tracking stories go. If you you’ve never opted out of Twitter's stuff before, you are still able to turn this new setting off by simply going to settings, choosing your account, selecting the ‘other’ option and then unchecking ‘tailor Twitter based on my apps’.

Many will fear that this is another step towards us handing over our entire online identity to the men behind the social networks. However, it’s so easy to turn off that I’m happy to file this one under ‘no big deal’.

The update will be released this Wednesday for iOS and next week for Android. 


Emile is a graduate from the University of Saint Mark and Saint John. He’s hoping to break into journalism or publishing, and won’t stop blogging until he’s managed it! Follow him @EmileAtSMF.

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Twitter Will Soon Track Your App Downloads Reviewed by Emile Cole on Thursday, November 27, 2014 Rating: 5
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