Call it eavesdropping or ‘data tapping;’ Wilford Raney, a resident of Texas, has filed a lawsuit against Twitter for snooping on Direct Messages between its users.
According to the Wall Street Journal, as soon as a user sends a DM, the microblogging outfit intercepts, reads, and at times, alters the message. Of special interest to the plaintiff is the hyperlinks sent within the private-chat function. Raney gave an example of when a hyperlink to a New York Times story is sent via a DM, Twitter takes over by replacing the link with its own link-shortening tool, www.t.co before it gets to the original recipient, which then is masked by displaying the original New York Times link.
“Twitter’s algorithms will read through the Direct Message, identify the hyperlink, and replace it with its own custom link, thereby sending the person clicking on the link to Twitter’s analytics servers before passing them on to the original linked-to website,” claims the suit.
The lawsuit, which was filed in a San Francisco federal court, alleges that the microblogging outfit is doing this in order to benefit its advertising business. By using its own link shortening tool, the company is at an advantage to better track and prove to publishers how much Twitter is able to drive traffic back to its site.
According to the lawsuit, this represents a violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and California’s privacy law.
Responding to the lawsuit, a Twitter spokesperson said: “We believe these claims are meritless and we intend to fight them.”