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Twitter Sues Spammers

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Twitter has had enough of TweetAttacks, TweetAdder, TweetBuddy, Troption, and Justinlover. So much so, that the microblogging site filed a suit against these five tool providers and spammers in San Francisco's federal court this morning.

"Our engineers continue to combat spammers' efforts to circumvent our safeguards, and today we're adding another weapon to our arsenal: the law," Twitter announced on its blog today. "With this suit, we're going straight to the source."

By working to shut down these tool providers, Twitter hopes to stop other spammers from using those tools. The tools function by providing downloadable software (usually for a fee) that lets users easily tweet posts and direct messages automatically.

The tool provider justinlover.info says its tool can help users get Justin Bieber to follow them. "So, if you really want to, all you have to do is to seize the right moment, for example, the time when he just updates his twitter, then immediately leave him messages," the site says. "You'd better keep leaving him messages to attract his attention."

Twitter now has 140 million active users and more than 340 million tweets a day, which makes it a prime target for spammers. The social network says that the suit filed today is intended to "act as a deterrent" to spammers and send a clear message to would-be spammers that there are consequences for violating its anti-spam rules.

"One challenge in battling spam are bad actors who build tools designed to distribute spam on Twitter (and the Web) by making it easier for other spammers to engage in this annoying and potentially malicious activity," Twitter wrote on its blog.

Besides the suit, the company has also taken other anti-spam efforts including acquiring the anti-malware company Dasient, using its link shortener to analyze whether a tweeted link leads to spam, and making it easy for users to report or block spammers.

Twitter isn't the first tech company to go after spammers in court. In January, Facebook and the Washington State Attorney General filed suits against alleged "likejackers" that trick users into "liking" sites, and Google has also filed suits against spammers' online pharmacy scams and work-from-home scams.

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It will be interesting to see what comes from all of this. I'm not sure the makers of those programs are breaking any laws. If you do something that is against the terms of service of a website you're not breaking any laws unless it's a breach of contract with the contract being consumated when you check the little box that says you agree to the terms of service. But if that's the case it is each individual user that would be breaking the law and not the people that create the software.

This will be interesging to watch but I don't even use twitter so at this point it has no effect on me.

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It will be interesting to see what comes from all of this. I'm not sure the makers of those programs are breaking any laws. If you do something that is against the terms of service of a website you're not breaking any laws unless it's a breach of contract with the contract being consumated when you check the little box that says you agree to the terms of service. But if that's the case it is each individual user that would be breaking the law and not the people that create the software.

This will be interesging to watch but I don't even use twitter so at this point it has no effect on me.

Directly quoted from Twitter's Terms of Service which you agree to before signing up:

You may not do any of the following while accessing or using the Services: (i) access, tamper with, or use non-public areas of the Services, Twitter’s computer systems, or the technical delivery systems of Twitter’s providers; (ii) probe, scan, or test the vulnerability of any system or network or breach or circumvent any security or authentication measures; (iii) access or search or attempt to access or search the Services by any means (automated or otherwise) other than through our currently available, published interfaces that are provided by Twitter (and only pursuant to those terms and conditions), unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a separate agreement with Twitter (NOTE: crawling the Services is permissible if done in accordance with the provisions of the robots.txt file, however, scraping the Services without the prior consent of Twitter is expressly prohibited); (iv) forge any TCP/IP packet header or any part of the header information in any email or posting, or in any way use the Services to send altered, deceptive or false source-identifying information; or (v) interfere with, or disrupt, (or attempt to do so), the access of any user, host or network, including, without limitation, sending a virus, overloading, flooding, spamming, mail-bombing the Services, or by scripting the creation of Content in such a manner as to interfere with or create an undue burden on the Services.

I'm not sure if these service providers can legalese their way out of a breach-of-contract, but it's definitely in there.

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Brandon, what Adamw meant is that the service providers didn't breach the contract because they technically never agreed to it. It is the twitter users who agree to this terms not the service providers.

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Brandon, what Adamw meant is that the service providers didn't breach the contract because they technically never agreed to it. It is the twitter users who agree to this terms not the service providers.

This thought actually occurred to me as I was writing my last post. That's why I said I'm not sure because I don't know how these services work (e.g. do service providers have to sign up?). This might just be a scare tactic but knowing internet marketers, this problem isn't going away for a long time.

I'll be honest though, I didn't realize spammers were costing Twitter so much money;

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, its approaching $1mil just for these 5.

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Twitter can do this but it isn't going to change anything. Operating any kind of social network, you're bound to be spammed all to hell. Dealing with the spam should be figured into regular operations.

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I agree with this move by Twitter. Why? Because as we all know and have experienced in the past few years, the social media companies, article directories, and the like that refuse to combat useless content and fail to implement any methods of review in their product are the ones that are utterly devalued by Google. By doing this, Twitter is telling Google: "hey, we are just like you guys and completely against spammers." This move will help make the value of Re-Tweets and followers more genuine which will lead to what? more link value.

So what does that mean for us? Start making your tweets more valuable and stop putting junk out there! Tweet something people want to read and want to follow and Twitter and Google will reward you!

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I agree with this move by Twitter. Why? Because as we all know and have experienced in the past few years, the social media companies, article directories, and the like that refuse to combat useless content and fail to implement any methods of review in their product are the ones that are utterly devalued by Google. By doing this, Twitter is telling Google: "hey, we are just like you guys and completely against spammers." This move will help make the value of Re-Tweets and followers more genuine which will lead to what? more link value.

So what does that mean for us? Start making your tweets more valuable and stop putting junk out there! Tweet something people want to read and want to follow and Twitter and Google will reward you!

Nonsense.

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Lots of gray area in this. Should be interesting to see how the legal action unfolds.

Could be a scare tactic or there could be some legal basis. It will also be interesting to see how they define terms such as "flooding", "overloading" and "spamming".

One person's "spam" could be another person's "information." Personally I've clicked on links in different types of communications that other people might have considered spam. It gets very subjective.

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It will be interesting to see what comes from all of this. I'm not sure the makers of those programs are breaking any laws. If you do something that is against the terms of service of a website you're not breaking any laws unless it's a breach of contract with the contract being consumated when you check the little box that says you agree to the terms of service. But if that's the case it is each individual user that would be breaking the law and not the people that create the software.

This will be interesging to watch but I don't even use twitter so at this point it has no effect on me.

Breach of contract isn't breaking the law. It's a civil matter (hence why Twitter is sueing and the FBI/DOJ isn't pressing charges).

The service providers aren't the ones spamming and their tools can theoretically be used for legit purposes. This is why the file sharing software providers didn't go out of business. Wish these guys the best of luck!

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That's very bad. Twitter is suing them for $100 000 each. Imagine that you get sued by a huge corporation for $100 000. That is some serious *****.

So in theory, you could get sued by creating Wordpress.com, Blogger, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Typepad, Weebly, Pinterest etc. accounts in bulk, and use them for promotion?

So all blackhatters should worry now?

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That's very bad. Twitter is suing them for $100 000 each. Imagine that you get sued by a huge corporation for $100 000. That is some serious *****.

So in theory, you could get sued by creating Wordpress.com, Blogger, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Typepad, Weebly, Pinterest etc. accounts in bulk, and use them for promotion?

So all blackhatters should worry now?

I believe the only 'court defined' definition of SPAM is actually email spam, which has been determined to be unlawful. However 'twitter' spam is certainly an unprecedented issue. There are NO laws in any country against 'forum spam'...for instance, as far as I know. As noted above, one man's spam is another man's pick of the week. If this ***** actually goes through and sets precedent in the courts it's time for me to leave the country and move in with the Russian Spammers.... This a nation of unjust laws and retarded 'tweeters' now anyway. I'll stop spamming when google admits they are 'Evil, that's my vow.

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I believe the only 'court defined' definition of SPAM is actually email spam, which has been determined to be unlawful. However 'twitter' spam is certainly an unprecedented issue. There are NO laws in any country against 'forum spam'...for instance, as far as I know. As noted above, one man's spam is another man's pick of the week. If this ***** actually goes through and sets precedent in the courts it's time for me to leave the country and move in with the Russian Spammers.... This a nation of unjust laws and retarded 'tweeters' now anyway. I'll stop spamming when google admits they are 'Evil, that's my vow.

No, Russian spammers can still be sued in the US. Quote from the Twitter TOS:

Controlling Law and Jurisdiction

These Terms and any action related thereto will be governed by the laws of the State of California without regard to or application of its conflict of law provisions or your state or country of residence. All claims, legal proceedings or litigation arising in connection with the Services will be brought solely in San Francisco County, California, and you consent to the jurisdiction of and venue in such courts and waive any objection as to inconvenient forum. If you are accepting these Terms on behalf of a United States federal government entity that is legally unable to accept the controlling law, jurisdiction or venue clauses above, then those clauses do not apply to you but instead these Terms and any action related thereto will be will be governed by the laws of the United States of America (without reference to conflict of laws) and, in the absence of federal law and to the extent permitted under federal law, the laws of the State of California (excluding choice of law).

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No, Russian spammers can still be sued in the US. Quote from the Twitter TOS:

Doh! but I don't think any Russian will fly to San Fernando Valley on his own behalf for court or be Extradited from the Motherland for 'twitter spam'. LOLz

Edited by mrclean

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You have all missed the point.

Google's plan is working, Google said they are looking at social signals as a way of ranking better in SERPS. knowing full well that twitter and facebook would be inundated with spam.

Its a dirty tactic and a well planned one. As they launch Google plus into full swing at the same time with promises of a clutter free service or they will try too LOL

History repeats itself, the same is true of Hi5 and Facebook, Hi5 spammed to ***** = People move to secure facebook.

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