Twitter Sued for Intercepting and Altering Private User Messages to Increase Ad Rates
Social media giant Twitter is being charged in a lawsuit with intercepting, reading and altering private user messages in order to boost its advertising rates.
In a class-action suit filed in a San Francisco federal court, plaintiff Wilford Raney of Texas claims Twitter monitors the content of its “direct message” service that allows users to communicate privately. Twitter also alters these messages, according Raney, when people include links to articles.
The software behind Twitter’s direct-message service will “identify the hyperlink and replace it with its own custom link” to give the false impression that it is the source of the traffic. Twitter does this, Raney says, to boost its advertising rates. For instance, if a user includes a link from The New York Times in her message, Twitter shortens the link and makes it so the Times knows the visitor came via Twitter.
This happens without users’ consent, and in the process, violates their privacy under the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (pdf) and the California Invasion of Privacy Act, according to the lawsuit.
Raney hopes to have the suit certified to represent every American on Twitter who has sent or received a direct message, which would be very lucrative for Raney and his legal defense. Twitter has more than 1 billion registered users and 316 million active users who collectively transmit more than a half-billion tweets per day. The lawsuit seeks damages as high as $100 per day for each Twitter user whose privacy was violated and $5,000 per class member, according to Courthouse News Service.
To Learn More:
Twitter Accused of Eavesdropping on Users (by Elizabeth Warmerdam, Courthouse News Service)
Google Says Its Customers Shouldn’t Expect Any Email Privacy (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Class-Action Suit Alleges Google Violates California Law by Reading E-mail (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)
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