Twitter, along with its parent company X Corp., has taken legal action against four individuals identified as John Does, who are alleged to have engaged in widespread unlawful data scraping from the platform.
The lawsuit refers to these individuals as “unknown persons or entities” and identifies them solely by their IP addresses.
It accuses them of flooding Twitter with automated requests that far exceed the capacity of any single individual, with the intention of scraping valuable data.
Elon Musk, in response to a tweet regarding the lawsuit, stated that these entities attempted to scrape the entirety of Twitter within a short span of time.
He also placed the blame on them for the rate limits that Twitter implemented earlier this month.
In July, Musk announced that Twitter would enforce strict limitations on the number of tweets users can read each day, in order to combat excessive data scraping and system manipulation.
Unverified accounts were restricted to 600 posts per day, while verified (and therefore paid) accounts were allowed to view up to 6,000 tweets.
The defendants in this lawsuit are believed to be responsible for these imposed limits. “These requests have severely strained X Corp.’s servers and hindered the user experience for millions of X Corp.’s customers,” stated the company in its complaint.
Furthermore, X Corp. has accused the defendants, in the lawsuit, of unlawfully scraping data associated with Texas residents.
However, CNBC points out that the US Ninth Circuit of Appeals ruled in 2022 that the scraping of publicly available data online does not violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
This landmark ruling concluded a long-standing lawsuit filed by LinkedIn, which sought to prevent rival companies from scraping information visible on users’ public profiles.
The lawsuit also highlights that “data scraping companies profit off the innovation of companies like X Corp., while causing harm and compromising user data.”
As a result, Twitter is seeking $1 million in damages to compensate for the defendants’ actions.