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Twitter Communications Privacy Social Networks The Courts

Twitter Sued For Scanning Direct Messages 80

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Twittter is facing a new possible class action suit that accuses the company of violating user privacy. The lawsuit states that the company has been "systematically intercepting, reading, and altering" direct messages, most likely a reference to Twitter's long-standing practice of automatically shortening and redirecting any in-message links. The practice could be used to monitor or redirect any URLs included in a direct message, although it's generally seen as a benign extension of the company's broader link-shortening systems. In a statement to USA Today, Twitter, to nobody's surprise, insisted that the allegations are "meritless."
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Twitter Sued For Scanning Direct Messages

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  • Honestly, is this something you would ever say to anyone,

    if you had nothing to hide?

    These accusations are preposterpous!

    • Honestly, is this something you would ever say to anyone,

      if you had nothing to hide?

      These accusations are preposterpous!

      Absolutely.

      This is part of the structure of most lawsuits. They file a complaint, you file a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted (i.e. they said it wrong), you file an answer, you get cross-motions for summary judgment (both sides argue that even taking all of the facts as favoring the other party, they still win), and finally in one in a thousand cases you go to trial.

      Calling a claim "without merit" can generally mean one of two things--it doesn't re

  • Facebook too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @10:23PM (#50529241)

    Facebook is being sued over the same practice, as well as for taking it a step further. If you mention a business's Facebook link (and possibly their independent website URL) in a private message, that mention gets counted as a "like" on the business's Facebook page. So not only were they scanning PMs, they were representing endorsements that didn't exist.

    This kind of shit is what you get when you use a huge advertising platform as your "private" communication hub.

    • This kind of shit is what you get when you use a huge advertising platform as your "private" communication hub

      The last time I logged out of my facebook account ... 2004

      The last time I logged out of my tweeter account ... 2006

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        Your post demonstrates that you are a snobbish twat, but in no way does it tell us whether you use FB or Twitter.

        Hint: when was the last time you logged in?

      • Jesus. You've been continually logged in to facebook for over a decade?!?

        Get some help.

      • by JazzLad ( 935151 )
        Did you have to log in to check? ;)
  • Workaround (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @10:27PM (#50529257) Homepage Journal

    I haven't used twitter in five years and in that time they haven't intercepted, read, or altered any of my messages.

    • by N1AK ( 864906 )
      I haven't lived in the US for the last 5 years, so all Americans should stop complaining about anything bad their government does to them. Great logic... not.
    • +4 Insightful for saying he doesn't use a popular service. Apparently there are acceptable levels of elitism.

      • by jdavidb ( 449077 )
        I don't think of myself as elite; more of a dinosaur. But my point was nobody forces you to use twitter; it's a voluntary relationship. Unlike my government which is forced on me by my neighbors because of their blind religious faith.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @10:36PM (#50529283)

    Is that, like, still a thing?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So basically, twitter is being sued for processing people's direct messages while they process people's direct messages? How do they think direct messages work? Are they transmitted with via unicorns and pixie dust?

  • Twitter "Intercepted" the messages they were sending via Twitter? I don't think that word means what they think it means.
    Incidentally - every SMTP server on the planet "Intercepts, reads and alters" messages.

    What I don't understand though, is what damage these people have actually suffered? Or is this just a case of some lawyers noticing what looks to them to be a technical violation of a law, and seeing dollar signs?

    • If Twitter's behaviour for elongating the URLs in the public Tweets is any indication, their own bots actually download the contents of the links, allegedly trying to scan it for malware or whatnot.

      I, personally, suffer because I never experience any URLs being shortened, they instead only get elongated by the service, reducing already constrained character space.

      I mean, you don't have to go far to find a URL shorter than http://t.co/qLxImbQYvn [t.co]. Even if you have a newly registered .com, it's still likely t

  • s/shortening/elongating/

    There, fixed it for you!

    In what world
    http://t.co/qLxImbQYvn [t.co]
    http://t.co/VnQBo6VP6g [t.co]
    is shorter than
    http://bxr.su/ [bxr.su]
    http://cnst.su/ [cnst.su]
    ?

  • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @11:11PM (#50529409)
    Twitter is a free service that users voluntarily sign up to use. I don't remember ever being promised that Twitter would not read direct messages. Where is the expectation of privacy here? Just because other users can't normally see DMs is no implied promise that Twitter isn't going to look at them. If you want private messaging, use a paid service that states so in their terms of service, or better yet, use a messaging application with end-to-end encryption.
    • by Flentil ( 765056 )

      I don't see why you put more faith in a paid service over one that's free. The TOS is what matters, not the cost.

      • I don't see why you put more faith in a paid service over one that's free. The TOS is what matters, not the cost.

        Which is probably why OP used the phrase "that states so in their terms of service" when mentioning paid services....

    • The basis of the suit is "I like free money." For the lawyers, it's "vacation home."

      • If you're a lawyer, you launch law suits.... it's what you do....

        • If you're a lawyer, you launch law suits.... it's what you do....

          Plenty of lawyers are not trial lawyers. Look it up -- before you speak as though you know. It's better for everyone that way.

    • by allo ( 1728082 )

      Private messages of any kind have always the expectation of privacy.

  • What if they deduped attachments and replaced the "original" with a link to a copy? Is that bad too?

    • What if they deduped attachments and replaced the "original" with a link to a copy? Is that bad too?

      That depends on what they do with the copy, for how long they retain it, how secure those copies are, how many backups there are, and with whom they share it. If that involves the government then they may not have a choice but to share. This can be done in huge volumes, without notice, facilitating mass surveillance.

      It also depends on whether every user involved is aware of, understands, and has consciously (and unambiguously) consented to it. Whenever practical, I'm all for letting consenting adults

  • You mean, if I send a message through Twitter, Twitter is going to see it? Say it ain't so!
    • by N1AK ( 864906 )
      That's why no one should complain about phone companies keeping records of calls (and even transcripts) or the government filling the streets with cameras right?
  • "...most likely a reference to Twitter's long-standing practice of automatically shortening and redirecting any in-message links."

    Slashdot does the dirty deed too.

    Hey Shashies, just send the damages money to my PayPal account.

    • "...most likely a reference to Twitter's long-standing practice of automatically shortening and redirecting any in-message links."

      Slashdot does the dirty deed too.

      Hey Shashies, just send the damages money to my PayPal account.

      I don't get this. The Slashdot default doesn't shorten URLs. The default really lengthens them because the links is followed by the [domain.name] in brackets. The link plus this additional information is longer than the link itself. Unless you're defining "links" as something other than a string like: <a href=http://stupidshit.com/">Your argument is bullshit</a>. But then you're no longer talking about Slashdot.

  • This is Twitter we're talking about. A DM means that it's not broadcast to the world. If people are surprised that Twitter has control of their Twitter messages, I don't even know where to begin.

    • by allo ( 1728082 )

      the law says, the service provider should not snoop on private messages. no tos can change this.

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