Twitter's app-scanning is the price you pay for free

What do you expect?

Twitter office

Twitter announced yet another way it wants to try to make us hate it more than Facebook this week, revealing a plan to make the mobile app more invasive than ever.

From the company that brought you Scan And Upload My Address Book we now have a weird app-monitoring system that promises to rifle through our mobiles to see what apps we've got on them, then serve us stuff related to our app collections.

By which it means the "app graph" facility will be looking to see if you've got a Batman game installed on your phone, so it can hammer you with ads for similar mainstream entertainment products in your timeline, therefore making yet more money out of its users by better tailoring the ads it serves.

Obviously there was an uproar from tech-aware consumers over this move, with the sort of people who actually pay attention to app permissions claiming this invasion of privacy is roughly equal to the NSA installing a camera behind their bedroom mirrors so it can have them arrested in the night should they have looks on their faces that hint at some sort of troublemaking.

But what do you expect?

By signing up to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the modern social networks, what you're basically doing is agreeing to generate content for them for free, work for free, and waive all rights to any sort of say in what happens and how they manage you.

That's what you are. You're a free labourer, churning out the pages, generating the opinions and photographs that fill the internet, for free, often on your own work time, so someone else can make money out of your words and photos for their shareholders.

You clicked a thing saying everything about this arrangement is completely OK with you when creating the account, so their arses are covered. Your time is their money.

It's not really a shock that these social media moguls are looking to tweak the process so it suits them better. That's just them doing their job. And you desperately spamming out first-draft opinions in the hope of gathering retweets and magicking more page impressions out of nowhere for your corporate overlords is your (unpaid intern) job.

Checkboxes for free

How much is your Twitter account worth to you? If they said you had to wear a camera on your head in order to keep your hard-won 272 followers, would you? Would you pay £1 a month for it? Probably not, so they've got to make enough money to pay for the cat photo hosting somehow.

You've got to give them something back in return for having the luxury of free stuff that works. Facebook has built a network that means you don't have to phone your mum as often as you used to. It's invaluable.

Twitter entertains you and fills you with news, while also perhaps offering the chance to briefly interact with a famous person should you suck up to them well enough, collecting RTs and favourites as your mum once collected autographs from men subsequently convicted of historic sex offences.

Without the social networks and their various money harvesting systems, the internet would be boring. You could quit your Twitter account in disgust over it wanting to look at your phone in the manner of a suspicious partner, but then what would you do? Bookmark your favourite accounts and read them manually?

Just shrug and carry on. Say yes to everything. It's only the awkward people who say "no" that go on the surveillance programmes.

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