Lawsuit Challenges Twitter’s Attempts to Restrict Data Access

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Did you ever wonder what happens to the nearly 400 million Tweets posted to Twitter every day? Because they reveal so much about what people are thinking and doing, Twitter has spawned a whole industry of companies that analyze the data and convert it into valuable market information.

While the social media company has generally made its feed available to companies seeking to mine it for valuable information, Twitter is gradually restricting access. Not surprisingly, companies that have built their business models around mining user Tweets are fighting back. A California court recently awarded a temporary restraining order to PeopleBrowsr Inc., a company that relies on Twitter data to provide analytics to clients that include Fortune 500 companies and the federal government.

The business lawsuit alleges that Twitter’s recent decision to cut ties with PeopleBrowsr could put the company out of business. The company’s business model relies on Twitter’s “Firehose,” which provides every tweet posted on the social media network. However, Twitter recently informed the company that it is terminating their current access and will now require the company to go through other service providers that provide only samples of Twitter content.

As detailed in its lawsuit, “PeopleBrowsr built its business on the Firehose because Twitter promised to maintain an ‘open ecosystem’ for its data, where PeopleBrowsr and other developers could compete without Twitter using its control over data access to pick who could survive.”

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