The cost of being social; which apps upload your contacts

A list of who's naughty and who's nice when it comes to uploading your iOS address book.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

Apple looks the other way while developers to pilfer your iPhone contacts, but is committed to righting its wrong in a future software release. This much we know.

Wonderful, but what about right now? Are we supposed to stop using social media apps while Apple figures out its next step? Should developers be allowed to police themselves?

But it's not just Path and Twitter (which keeps your address book on file for 18 months). It turns out that most of the top social apps upload your contacts to their servers, but some are better than others.

The Verge did some digging and made a list of what the various social apps do with your address book data. Until Apple steps in to sort this whole mess out, each developer decides how it deals with your contact data.

Here's a cheat sheet:

  • Twitter - Uploads your address book, but you have to click "scan your contacts"
  • Facebook - Uploads your address book, but you have to click "scan your address book"
  • LinkedIn - Uploads your address book, but you have to click "scan your address book"
  • Path - After lots of public scorn deleted its database and is now opt-in
  • Instagram - Followed Path and switched to opt-in
  • Hipster - Uses HTTPS, added opt-in
  • FoursquarePop-up notification, does not store your data
  • Gowalla - Uploads email addresses after tapping "Find Friends" and "Address Book" but doesn't disclose that it's uploading
  • Foodspotting - When you touch "Follow People" it uploads your entire email list in clear text to an insecure HTTP address. Planning an update.
  • Instapaper - One of the best. Developer Marco Arment is completely transparent about his security and data retention policy

Surprisingly, The Verge notes that several apps you'd expect to be uploading your contact data didn't, at least in its testing. Honorable mention goes to:

  • Pinterest
  • Skype
  • Flipboard
  • Shazam
  • Pandora
  • Rdio
  • Meebo
  • Netflix
  • Google+
  • Skype
  • TripIt
  • Color

Call me paranoid, but I'll definitely be spending a lot more time on my Droid 4, at least until Apple issues iOS 5.0.2. Which apps did I miss? Post them (and their AB upload policy) in the TalkBack below.

Image: The "Conversation Prism" by Brian Solis of the PR 2.0 blog.

Update: Here's a subset of Apple's App Store Essentials in the Social Networking category:

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