TWITTER bosses have admitted spying on millions of users' smartphones and secretly taking ALL contacts information without users' permission.
The company said it had copied entire address books, storing the information on its servers as part of the 'Find Friends' function in its iPhone app.
The Los Angeles times reported that the site stores the information for up to 18 months.
Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner said: “We want to be clear and transparent in our communications with users.
“We are updating the language associated with Find Friends - to be more explicit.”
Apple chiefs have entered the controversy saying they will require iPhone and iPad apps to seek 'explicit approval' before accessing users’ address book data.
A spokesman saidL “Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines.”
What Twitter does with your private data
Twitter's 'new' app will still read your address book and transmit and store your data.
The data is often used to 'link' people to other friends using the service.
What has shocked users is that this highly private data is being taken without their permission.
The online backlash against Twitter was both swift and damning.
Comments flooding news websites around the world included:
"Is 'harvesting' the politically correct word for 'stealing'? Simple solution everybody - STOP USING THEM!!"
"Nothing is free! Every time you open a Facebook or Twitter or any other Social Networking account you give the company access to your life."