Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Twitter Is 'Reading' Your Direct Messages

DM.jpg

What's hiding in that 'Direct Message' inbox of yours?

Anything compromising? Nothing you need worry about?

We only ask because it turns out Twitter might have been reading them over your shoulder all this whole time.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Twitter this week, after Wilford Raney and others complained that "Twitter surreptitiously eavesdrops on its users’ private Direct Message communications. As soon as a user sends a Direct Message, Twitter intercepts, reads, and, at times, even alters the message".

The niggle lies in how Twitter handles the path of your 'DM': rather than heading straight to the recipient's inbox, it is first scanned by a Twitter algorithm (note: not a human) which shortens long URLs for shorter ones. This is 'proof' that DMs are being read in a previously unknown manner.

This, the suit claims, allows Twitter to benefit in underhand fashion: should you send your friend a DM link to a ShortList.com article, Twitter's algorithm will swap in their own, traceable link, thus allowing them to keep an eye on how well their own service is acting as a traffic source, and thus charge a higher advertising rate in the long term.

It's going to be a tricky legal battle of semantics: Twitter doesn't describe its Direct Messages as 'private', but rather 'more private' than sending a public Tweet. No humans are involved in scanning your Direct Messages, so it's not clear if the network is actually breaking any privacy laws if it's just computers looking for URLs. Google was hit by a similar lawsuit that claimed it was reading Gmail messages for keywords.

Twitter has told TechCrunch that it believes "the claims are meritless and we intend to fight them".

No - your inbox isn't about to get leaked all over the dark web, but it does serve as a reminder than anything you send anywhere on the web - no matter the level of privacy you think is involved - can be read by something or someone at any time.

Related

launch2.jpg

Here's How To Get '3D Touch' Functions On Your Old iPhone

dislike2.jpg

Facebook Finally Giving Us A 'Dislike' Button. Only They're Also Not

darpa2.jpg

The US Military Just Invented A Robotic Insect Helicopter

concept2.jpg

The Minimalist Phone Concept You Didn't Know You Wanted

t2.jpg

NASA Has Invented A Terminator-like Self-healing Material

badnightout.jpg

Facebook Is Ruining your Excuse for Getting Out of Boring Invitations

Comments

More

Super Mario in Grand Theft Auto is weird and awesome

Who would've thought Mario would get into a knife fight in a park?

by Jamie Carson
18 Jan 2017

The only Vines worth preserving

The most important cultural artefacts of our time

by Tristan Cross
17 Jan 2017

Hurrah: The Nintendo Switch now has a price and release date

Here's everything you need to know about the new console

by Tom Fordy
13 Jan 2017

The best underwater photographs of 2016 are staggeringly beautiful

Aquatic snaps that made a splash

by Dave Fawbert
12 Jan 2017

Using Google Maps actually does ruin your sense of direction

"Make a U-turn where possible"

by Dave Fawbert
11 Jan 2017

Netflix releases 8-bit game featuring Narcos and Stranger Things

Goodbye, productivity.

by Emily Badiozzaman
10 Jan 2017

The original Game Boy is coming back

Time to dust off your Pokemon Red & Blue cartridges

by Jamie Carson
10 Jan 2017

Watch Steve Jobs launch first iPhone 10 years ago

Today marks 10 years since Steve Jobs presented the world with this iconic product, but it could have been so different

09 Jan 2017

The best gadgets to launch at the biggest tech conference in the world

Christmas 2017 can't come early enough

by Joe Ellison
05 Jan 2017

This is why hitting the snooze button is bad for your health

If you snooze, you really do lose

03 Jan 2017