Twitter was hit with a proposed class action lawsuit on Monday that claims its automatic link-shortening in direct messages amounts to wiretapping.
“Twitter surreptitiously eavesdrops on its users’ private Direct Message communications,” the complaint reads. “As soon as a user sends a Direct Message, Twitter intercepts, reads, and, at times, even alters the message.”
The complaint was brought in federal court in San Francisco from Wilford Rane, as The Hollywood Reporter uncovered.
The suit alleges that Twitter’s algorithms modify links sent through its direct message service. The suit uses a New York Times article as an example, which had its link modified to “”http:/t.co/CL2SKBxr1s” — though it still showed “www.nytimes.com” to the user. This, the suit argues, is deceptive.
The lawsuit claims that, by using this link-shortening mechanism, Twitter passes data to its analytics servers before sending users to the linked site. This allegedly allows them to benefit from higher advertising rates, according to the suit.
Bear in mind that this is merely a proposed class action, and has not been approved by a judge. The claimed damages run up to $US100 per day for each user of two classes: those who received direct messages and those who sent them.
A similar class action against Google, which alleged that the company was combing through Gmail accounts for advertising purposes, was derailed when a judge ruled that the users were too dissimilar to make up a class.
Facebook was also smacked with a similar suit last year, which alleged it used data from private messages to target ads.
Business Insider has reached out to Twitter for comment.