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Twitter DM class action lawsuit would hurt users

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Twitter has always been known for its strong privacy policies and willingness to keep things secret from everyone, even the government.  A new class action lawsuit is attacking something in the system. It’s not the people. It’s not even hackers. It’s the algorithm that changes out links.

In what the lawsuit calls “intercepted” links, this algorithm that takes links and shortens them is in violation of the Electronic Communication Privacy Act and California’s privacy law.

Links sent through direct messages are supposed to be private according to the lawsuit. However, the links are sent through to Twitter’s analytics server before being passed through to the recipient. Is it something that can be construed as wiretapping?

Here’s our take. Twitter is not trying to sell data. They’re not disclosing data or communications. They’re doing what they do for two reasons: reducing spam and increasing their potential revenue. It allows a site to see more clearly where traffic originates. With Twitter being mostly used through a mobile app, the traffic can come through as “direct” in analytics rather than as Twitter if they didn’t do this algorithmic filtering.

More importantly, they do it for the spam aspect. They are able to identify bad links before allowing them to be sent through. This reduces both spam and malware potentials, giving users a better experience. We haven’t read the lawsuit, but based upon what we’ve seen it would appear that winning it will do more harm for Twitter and its users while giving money to those filing suit who weren’t actually hurt in any way.

Sounds pretty frivolous. We’re not lawyers, but in this case it would seem like the lawsuit has no legs.

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