Twitter Fighting Spam Makers In Court
Last week I reported on the lawsuit Twitter has filed against the companies responsible for making “Twitter marketing” software (i.e. spam software). It claimed in a blog post that taking down those companies would make it harder for spammers who use their software and act as a deterrent for other spammers. Now, the official documents have come to light and it provides quite a window into the spam Twitter has to deal with.
The lawsuit lists several defendants, some spammers and some the makers of spam software. The defendants are Skootle Corporation, JL4 Web Solutions, “Justin Clark doing business at TweetBuddy.com”, James Kester, Jayson Yanuaria, James Lucero, and Garland E. Harris. Kester is identified as the principal officer of Skootle and Yanuaria the principal officer of JL4.
For the spammers in this list of defendants, Lucero and Harris, the argument is simple: they violated Twitter’s terms of service, which specifically ban user from certain activities defined as “Spam and Abuse.”
Suing the makers of the spam software is a little more tricky. The lawsuit claims that until recently, the TweetAttacks website advertised by saying “Replies will appear very natural. They will be posted via the WEB NOT THE API and it will look like being posted by a REAL HUMAN” [sic]. Since they were not directly violating Twitter’s terms of service, Twitter instead argues that the automated scripts they developed accessed Twitter’s website instead of its API, which Twitter does not allow. The lawsuit reads:
By connecting the TweetAttacks (TweetAdder and Tweetbuddy also get identical proclamations) software to Twitter’s websites and services through unauthorized means rather than through Twitter’s official API, TweetBuddy violates the Twitter TOS and induces violations thereof by the users of its software.
Twitter wants damages, including punitive damages, from each of the defendants, in an amount not less than $700,000. In addition, they want a court order banning the defendants from spamming or marketing their spam software. The $700,000 amount is arrived at from estimates of what each defendant cost Twitter. Specifically, the want $100,000 from Lucero, $75,000 from Harris, $75,000 from TweetAdder, $300,000 from TweetBuddy, and $150,000 from TweetAttacts.