About a month ago, we wrote about an interesting lawsuit that Twitter filed against the allegedly “most aggressive” Twitter spammers. The social media giant took action against companies with goofy names, such as TweetAttacks, TweetAdder, and TweetBuddy.
At least one of the defendants, Skootle, the company that developed TweetAdder, is fighting back against Twitter’s allegations. The company filed a response brief on Friday and is represented by none other than one of Above the Law’s own regular columnists.
Keep reading to see Skootle’s brief and learn which ATL columnist is helming the defense…
Tom Wallerstein, author of our From Biglaw to Boutique column, is representing Skootle, which created the TweetAdder application, in Twitter’s lawsuit against five websites it accused of creating tools to spam the Twitter world with everything from advertisements for sexual enhancement to viruses.
As we mentioned in April, the accused programs are often billed as services to help a Twitter user gain followers. They can take control of Twitter accounts and send automated tweets at real users — in the hope that some will follow the “bot” back or click the links it sends.
In a response filed at the end of last week, Skootle denied the allegations, citing famous users of the TweetAdder application. It sounds like a “some of my best friends are Fortune 500 companies” defense:
Customers of TweetAdder include popular television shows and newspapers, radio stations, PR firms, charities, law firms, musicians, celebrities, politicians and political campaigns, city chambers of commerce, banks, and numerous other businesses from small startups to Fortune 500 companies. These customers use TweetAdder to save the time and expense of manually locating and following users so they can spend more time engaging with the Twitter users that want to hear what they have to say and stay connected with them. Many tasks that TweetAdder performs can already be performed manually by the end user. TweetAdder simply makes it easier with added search capabilities.
The company also argued that it made several intentional decisions to separate TweetAdder from the morass of real, annoying Twitter spam:
Skootle has created TweetAdder in a way that makes it a useful and legitimate tool. Skootle specifically elected to exclude certain features from TweetAdder that would otherwise allow users to abuse Twitter. Without these features, it would be exceedingly difficult to use TweetAdder for illegitimate and malicious purposes. Those excluded features include:
a. Account creation. TweetAdder clients have no ability to create multiple profiles automatically. They must create their profiles manually with Twitter.
b. Bulk profile editing. TweetAdder users must create and edit each profile they enter into the program manually.
c. Mass importing accounts. TweetAdder users must input each twitter profile manually. They cannot upload a list of multiple profiles into the program.
d. Duplication of account settings. TweetAdder users must open each profile in
TweetAdder one by one and manually set each profile setting for that particular profile. They cannot simply copy over settings to their remaining profiles.
e. Following the same user on multiple accounts. TweetAdder does not permit a user to follower another user from multiple accounts.
f. @Replies based on user keywords. TweetAdder allows a user to send an “@reply” only on the condition that another Twitter user mentioned them in an @reply, such as a “thank you for mentioning me.” TweetAdder does not allow its users to indiscriminately send @replies to Twitter users who have not already mentioned them.
g. Automatic conversion of keywords to hashtags. TweetAdder does not permit users to automatically convert keywords to hashtags.
For what it’s worth, it does seem significant that TweetAdder will not reply to people unless there is already an online connection established. I’ve received an automated @reply from a minor “celebrity” twitterer (I have no idea what app he used to send the reply), and while it felt a bit tacky, it was clearly different than the nonsense “spam” that really bugs most people.
We reached out to Tom Wallerstein for a statement, but he declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.
We will see where this goes. No one likes Internet spam, and I say good riddance to companies who provide only that. It will be interesting to see if the court thinks TweetAdder deserves a closer look.
Twitter, Inc. v. Skootle Corp.: Skootle Corporation’s Answer To Complaint
[U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California]