Twitter sues four unknown entities for 'unlawful data scraping'

Musk blamed scraping by these entities for the website's decision to implement rate limits.


Twitter — or more precisely, its parent company X Corp. — has sued four John Does who have allegedly "engaged in widespread unlawful scraping of data" from the website. They were described as "unknown persons or entities" in the lawsuit, which only mentioned their IP addresses. The lawsuit accused them of flooding Twitter with automated requests far exceeding "what any single individual could send to a server in a given period" aimed at scraping data. In a response to a tweet about the lawsuit, Elon Musk said these entities tried to scrape the entirety of Twitter in a short period of time and blamed them for the rate limits the website implemented earlier this month.

Musk announced in early July that the website was putting a strict cap on how many tweets users can read each day "to address extreme levels of data scraping [and] system manipulation." Unverified accounts were limited to 600 posts a day, while verified (and, hence, paid) accounts were allowed to see 6,000 tweets. The defendants for this lawsuit were apparently to blame for those limits. "These requests have severely taxed X Corp.’s servers and impaired the user experience for millions of X Corp.’s customers," the company wrote in its complaint.

X Corp. also described the defendants' activities in the lawsuit as "unlawfully scraping data associated with Texas residents." But as CNBC notes, the US Ninth Circuit of Appeals ruled in 2022 that the scraping of data that's publicly available online doesn't violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). It was a landmark ruling that brought a long-running lawsuit by LinkedIn to a close. The business-focused social media platform filed a complaint in an attempt to block its rival companies from scraping information visible on users' public profiles.

"Data scraping companies profit off the innovation of companies like X Corp. while harming X Corp. and compromising user data," the company also said in its lawsuit. Twitter is now seeking $1 million in damages to make up for the defendants' actions.

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