Twitter claims a win against spammers with Skootle settlement

Skootle's services let companies automatically send out marketing materials to people on Twitter

By Zach Miners, IDG News Service |  Security, Twitter

Twitter has reached a settlement with Skootle that prohibits the Tennessee-based company from spamming Twitter users' feeds with marketing and other promotional content.

The case, which dates back to a lawsuit that Twitter brought against the company last year, was settled for an undisclosed amount.

Twitter filed suit against Skootle in April 2012, along with four other of "the most aggressive tool providers and spammers," Twitter said at the time.

The company said it was pleased with the Skootle settlement, which was made public Tuesday in a court document filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

"The stipulated order filed today protects our users and should serve as an example to other parties that try to use the Twitter platform for spam," a company spokeswoman said.

Skootle is the developer of TweetAdder, an automated Twitter marketing software service designed to "find and engage like-minded Twitter followers and schedule tweets," according to the TweetAdder website. Marketers can use the service to search for Twitter users based on keywords or their location, and then send them automated tweets and direct messages.

"You can set up a multitude of tweets in the software, and allow the software to spread them out throughout the day to keep you actively involved on Twitter while you enjoy yourself with your free time," according to the website.

With direct messages, marketers can "communicate with your followers automatically," the site says. "No problem!"

The settlement bans the company from sending "unsolicited commercial messages" to Twitter users, "including but not limited to Tweets, @replies and direct messages."

The settlement also bans Skootle from "engaging in false representations or false advertising that would misleadingly suggest to a reasonable consumer that a software or other technology conforms to Twitter's Terms of Service."

Version 3.0 and earlier of the TweetAdder software is banned from being used with Twitter. Current TweetAdder users must upgrade to version 4.0 by May 24, the TweetAdder website says.

Twitter hopes that by shutting down tool providers like Skootle and "going to the source," it can prevent other spammers from accessing its services.

Outside the courts, Twitter's engineers are fighting spammers with additional safeguards, the company said. Last year it began using its link shortener to analyze whether a tweeted link leads to malware or malicious content.

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