Twitter has revealed it will start collecting information on all the apps users have on their phones and tablets.
The social network said the move would allow it to target Twitter users with adverts tailored to them.
In a post on its help centre web page, Twitter said it would target people who use its app on all mobile devices that run Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems.
“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,” the company said.
Twitter, which claims it has 284m monthly active users, said it will only collect the names of the applications people have on their devices and not any data within those programs.
The information, which Twitter calls a person’s “graph data” will be used to “improve ‘who to follow’ suggestions that share similar interests; add tweets, accounts or other content to your timeline that we think you’ll find especially interesting, and showing you more relevant promoted content”.
Twitter will automatically opt its users into the new data collection service, but its help centre does explain how the option can be turned off.
Rival social network Facebook also collects information from third-party apps but does not keep a list of those programs.
Twitter referred The Telegraph to its announcment on its help centre web page when asked for comment.
The move was met with anger by Twitter users, who questioned why the company would want such information.
Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, which campaigns to raise awareness of digital rights and civil liberties issues said: “The apps that you have on your mobile devices can reveal sensitive, personal information about your health, relationship status or political views. For example, whether you have Grindr or Tinder can indicate your sexual orientation. Tracking apps is intrusive not helpful, and if this kind of tracking was used on a laptop, it would be considered spyware.”
Twitter is looking to boost revenues after lukewarm predictions for the fourth quarter rattled investors last month. Twitter said that revenues would come in at between $440m and $450m, potentially undercutting analysts’ forecasts of around $448m.
That followed revenues of $361m for the three months to September 30, double the amount in the same period last year and beating analyst expectations of $351m. Profits were in line with estimates at $7m.
“We had another very strong financial quarter” Dick Costolo, chief executive, said at the time. “I’m confident in our ability to build the largest daily audience in the world, over time, by strengthening the core, reducing barriers to consumption and building new apps and services.”
Twitter unveiled one of its biggest ever updates in the third quarter, with an increased focus on user biographies and photos. However, its decision to include tweets from people who users don’t follow angered some.
On an analyst call earlier this month, Twitter revealed it wanted to tailor tweets to users based on the businesses and events happening in their area.
As well as hoping to attract more users by introducing content specifically targeted at them, Twitter is also looking to grow by buying up other technology companies.
It has reportedly held talks with a photo-sharing app backed by pop star Justin Bieber.
Rumours of a move for Shots came after Antony Noto, Twitter’s chief financial officer, accidentally revealed on his social networking site that Twitter was interested in purchases.