Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Twitter Files Lawsuit Against Makers of Automated Twitter Tools

In case you've not yet heard, Twitter has filed a lawsuit in its efforts to combat spam on Twitter.

From a good article by Mark Raby at Slashgear.com, I extracted the following:

"Those named in the lawsuit are TweetAttacks, TweetAdder, TweetBuddy, Garland Harries, and James Lucero. “By shutting down tool providers, we will prevent other spammers from having these services at their disposal. With this suit, we’re going straight to the source,” Twitter wrote in a public blog post. The company wants you to know it’s as annoyed by these spammers as you are."

"Nevertheless, Twitter doesn’t want these guys to go to prison. It just has to prove that they are violating its terms of service and willfully damaging the site. Of course, it will most likely get settled out of court."

How exciting!

Actually, this whole thing is retarded. Basically, of the 140-million-whatever Twitter users, probably, what, a few hundred thousand use software like TweetAdder? And of those, a smaller fraction use it to spam in order to make money via pay-per-click online "businesses"?

This is the modern, electronic, virtual version of all those lawsuits which happened in the 90s when people began trying to sue manufacturers after their products were used by low-life douchebags to commit crimes and myriad heinous acts of repugnance.

Smith and Wesson are NOT responsible when some moron uses one of their firearms to do something evil.

Similarly, the nice folks at TweetAdder et al are NOT responsible when some moron uses their software to send spam in order to try and make a few bucks. Spam is annoying, yes, but the capitalistic incentive driving it is The American Way.

Whenever I have someone who sends me a tweet or a DM that looks like spam, I check their timeline to confirm they're sending the same crap to everyone, and then I click Report Spammer beside the cute little skull icon. It gives me such joy to do so, by the way.

I hope TweetAdder et al prevail in this spurious lawsuit. Before I began using TweetAdder, I was spending approximately five hours per day managing my Twitter accounts. As an independent novelist/publisher, Twitter is my principal marketing tool through which I share my work with others. TweetAdder has been a blessing. And I never use it to spam. I use it to follow and return follow, and to send a message saying hello and offering a free copy of one of my novels. I try to do so in a nice way which is non-intrusive and not "spammy".

Of the dozen or so articles I read discussing the lawsuit, the vast majority of the comments posted by others were in favor of the lawsuit. Clearly these are people who, like most of us, despise spam. But I believe they have failed to realize the other side of the equation, the side on which writers such as myself rely on the software for their livelihood.

Remember last summer when "Governor" Jerry Brown and the California "Legislature" passed that stupid tax law and Amazon immediately shut down all California-based affiliates? Thereby driving hundreds of thousands of businesses into the ditch virtually overnight?

And what happened? The "leaders" in Sacramento reversed themselves so that Amazon and its affiliates in California could continue to operate. Why California has become so anti-business is beyond the scope of this blog post, but suffice it to say that it is a disturbing trend.

At any rate, I hope this stupid lawsuit will be settled in some way which enables honest, hardworking people to continue their hard, honest work, rather than punishing everyone because there are a few dumb asses out there behaving like dumb asses.

Here's Twitter's official statement on their blog for anyone who hasn't read it:

8 comments:

  1. It appears to be pure "theater." Twitter is taking action -- some kind of action, even inappropriate/ineffectual action -- to create the illusion of "protecting" its users. Nothing new or surprising there. Do you suppose that Twitter is being advised by some ex-Congressional staffer or maybe an actual member of Congress. They're experts at this sort of thing.

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  2. You're absolutely correct, Jack. Theater of the absurd.

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  3. Ryan,
    I agree with you, and for once, Jack, well, maybe I've agreed with Jack more than once. I love TweetAdder and I've found it most helpful in staying in touch with followers and building a follower base - however, I don't want to wake up one morning and find that twitter has shut me down, so I'm going to back up two steps and wait for the smoke to blow off the battlefield.
    Well said my friend.
    Bert

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  4. You make an interesting argument, Bert. I find it difficult to believe that Twitter could or would sort through all 140 million users to find the ones using TweetAdder or similar software in order to close their Twitter account.

    The software companies may get shut down or be forced to find other methods of reducing spam.

    It's really not in anyone's interest to simply shut down the TweetAdder folks and us folks who use their software (responsibly, I might add).

    Whole industries have sprung up around the invention of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. And, yes, spam is annoying, but the notion of resorting to a lawsuit is a bit ridiculous.

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. I agree with your points... I'm also an author who uses Twitter the same way you do, and it's annoying but quite easy to get rid of spam...

    Armand Rosamilia

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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