X Corp., led by Elon Musk, has filed a lawsuit against four unidentified entities accused of engaging in data scraping activities that have significantly strained Twitter's servers and resulted in a deterioration of the user experience.
The legal action was initiated shortly after Twitter implemented rate limits for all users. Musk commented on the lawsuit through a tweet, explaining that it was necessary to introduce rate limits because certain entities had attempted to scrape every tweet ever posted within a condensed timeframe.
The lawsuit, recently filed in Dallas County District Court, aims to obtain damages of no less than $1 million. The defendants in the case are currently identified as four John Does.
Twitter intends to uncover their true identities through the discovery process, according to a report by Ars Technica. Twitter's terms of service prohibit scraping, and the platform employs various technological measures to identify and prevent unauthorized scraping activities.
"Scraping interferes with the legitimate operation of websites and mobile applications, including Twitter, by placing millions of requests that tax the capacity of servers and impair the experience of actual users," the complaint said. "Twitter users have no control over how data-scraping companies repackage and sell their personal information."
X Corp. is considering pursuing legal action against additional data scrapers in different geographic regions. The lawsuit mentions that Twitter has identified other IP addresses associated with data scraping activities.
However, in the current lawsuit, X Corp. specifically targets the four defendants in Dallas County due to their alleged affiliation with entities that operate data processing facilities within that jurisdiction.
Twitter versus the FTC
While Twitter doesn't know precisely the specific purposes for which the scraped data was used, the lawsuit alleges unjust enrichment and asserts a claim for actual damages resulting from the defendants' unlawful activities. Additionally, the lawsuit requests an accounting and disgorgement of the profits obtained by the defendants, with the exact amount to be determined during the trial proceedings.
Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been investigating Twitter to determine if Twitter under Musk is protecting users' privacy.
The FTC is investigating Twitter to determine whether there have been any potential violations of a prior agreement between the FTC and Twitter. This agreement was reached after the company faced allegations of consumer-protection law violations, and it involved Twitter agreeing to implement a comprehensive and rigorous set of data-security controls.
The ongoing investigation aims to ascertain if any breaches of this agreement have occurred. However, the probe faces opposition from Republicans in the House of Representatives, who criticize it as part of an "antibusiness agenda."