What does the number 140 mean to you? It may mean nothing, or, for all you Twitter followers, it may be the annoying limit that forces you to truncate tweets. One way Twitter has helped facilitate this 140 character count is by using Twitter link shorteners. These shorteners reduce the length of posted links. However, these link shorteners are being challenged in court.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court, Wilford Raney alleges that Twitter reads and alters direct messages sent by users, thus violating users’ privacy. In his suit, Raney contends that Twitter replaced links in direct messages with its own shortened links before sending the messages. Allegedly, Twitter did this to increase traffic back to its site. Twitter then, allegedly, used the increased traffic to gain more advertisers.

Raney seeks $100 per day for each user whose privacy was violated. Twitter responded to Raney’s suit by seeking dismissal as lacking merit. Twitter intends to fight off the claim. It will be interesting to see how and if this case proceeds. Will link shorteners be traded for a higher character count?

Robyn Taylor

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