Third-party Twitter applications will have to ask users' permission before processing their private messages following a change in the company's permissions policy.
Twitter users often use applications (apps) designed by third-party companies to send and receive private messages on Twitter. Twitter will now force some companies to ask users' permission to serve them their messages and deny other firms any access to the data at all.
"Apps that you use to access your direct messages will ask for your permission again," Twitter announced on its online blog.
"By the middle of June, applications that do not need access to your direct messages will no longer have it, and you can continue to use these apps as usual," Twitter said.
Twitter users will also be able to set the levels of access they give application companies to their accounts, Twitter said.
"When you first connect an application to Twitter, we'll give you more detailed information about what you're allowing the app to do with your account," the Twitter blog said.
"These activities may include reading your Tweets, seeing who you follow, updating your profile, posting Tweets on your behalf, or accessing your direct messages. If you're not comfortable with the level of access an application requests, simply say 'No, thanks'," Twitter said.
Twitter said it had updated its permissions policy in response to requests from users and web developers to clarify the issues surrounding user privacy controls.
The majority of the communications posted on Twitter are in the public domain. The company has recently been at the centre of a privacy issue after an anonymous user posted details about celebrities' private lives. The user claimed to unmask the identity of the celebrities who have court orders in place banning their names from being published.
In what is thought to be a UK first, a judge last week specifically mentioned Twitter as a medium banned from being used to identify people protected by the court's gagging order.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said recently that Twitter was making a "mockery" of UK privacy laws. ®