To most Twitter users, URL link shorteners are a convenient way to stuff more into a 140-character message. But a proposed class action lawsuit filed on Monday alleges that the social media service is using them in violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and California’s privacy law.
The complaint brought in federal court in San Francisco from Wilford Raney and others similarly situated is claiming that despite Twitter’s assurances that users are allowed to “talk privately” among one another, “Twitter surreptitiously eavesdrops on its users’ private Direct Message communications. As soon as a user sends a Direct Message, Twitter intercepts, reads, and, at times, even alters the message.”
The article goes on to discuss a similar suit brought against Google and Gmail in 2013.
Mr. Edelson said that its internal forensic experts were able to piece together how and why Twitter replaced the hyperlinks with its own URL shortener. But it has yet to come across evidence that Twitter was actually able to charge higher advertising rates thanks to the traffic data gleaned from intercepting hyperlinks sent through direct messages. “That’s obviously going to be a focal point of the litigation,” he said, adding “we feel confident that we understand why they’re doing it.” Mr. Edelson said a lot of people have been contacting the firm with questions since the lawsuit was filed this week.
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