Elon Musk’s X Corp., the company that owns and operates Twitter, has recently filed a lawsuit against four entities in Texas. The lawsuit alleges that these defendants engaged in data scraping from the social media site, causing issues for Twitter and its users. Filed in a Dallas County District Court on July 6, the lawsuit seeks damages of over $1 million. This legal action comes shortly after Twitter implemented a new policy that places limitations on the number of tweets a user can view per day.
Explaining the reason behind the rate limits, Musk took to Twitter and stated, “Several entities tried to scrape every tweet ever made in a short period of time. That is why we had to put rate limits in place.” Data scraping, as described in the lawsuit, refers to the unauthorized collection of data from a website or mobile application through the use of automation and other processes.
The lawsuit asserts that the defendants unlawfully collected data on Texas residents, thereby hindering the overall user experience on Twitter. X Corp. claims that the volume of data requests made by these entities surpassed what an individual user would be capable of, indicating an intentional effort to scrape data from Twitter. These excessive requests placed a severe strain on X Corp.’s servers and impaired the experience of millions of Twitter users.
Furthermore, the lawsuit contends that the companies engaged in data scraping are able to repurpose and profit from the collected information without the knowledge or consent of the Twitter users involved. The document states, “Twitter users have no control over how data-scraping companies repackage and sell their personal information.”
It is worth noting that Elon Musk acquired Twitter last year for a staggering $44 billion. On July 13, he unveiled his latest venture, an artificial intelligence company called xAI. In addition to Twitter, Musk also owns other notable companies such as Tesla and SpaceX, making him the richest person in the world with a net worth of $237 billion according to Forbes.
The defendants in this lawsuit are referred to as John Doe 1, John Doe 2, John Doe 3, and John Doe 4. While X Corp. has been unable to identify their true identities, it is alleged that these individuals or entities are associated with specific IP addresses. The lawsuit states that data scrapers often resort to software and technology to mask their identities and gain unauthorized access to private networks, making them difficult to detect.
The implementation of Twitter’s rate limits by Musk came as a response to the rampant data scraping and system manipulation that was taking place on the platform. Verified accounts are now limited to reading 6,000 posts per day, unverified accounts to 600 posts per day, and new unverified accounts to 300 posts per day. However, this move faced backlash from accounts such as informational agencies, monitoring services, and journalists who rely on Twitter to review thousands of tweets daily.
To address the concerns raised, Musk gradually increased the limits to 8,000, 800, and 400, and eventually to 10,000, 1,000, and 500. The sudden changes were not announced in advance, as Twitter aimed to identify and take action against the bad actors responsible for data scraping. Twitter also made another significant change by requiring users to log in to their accounts to view tweets and profiles, a departure from the previous practice of allowing anyone, with or without an account, to freely browse the platform.
Twitter emphasized its dedication to making the platform a better place for all users. Through the lawsuit and the implementation of rate limits, the company seeks to protect user data and ensure a positive user experience. As the legal proceedings unfold and Twitter continues to adapt its policies, the impact on data scraping and the platform’s stability remains to be seen.