The Elon Musk-owned X Corp. is suing four unnamed individuals over allegations they illegally scraped user data from Twitter, as first reported by CNBC. The lawsuit was filed in a Dallas County, Texas, court on July 6th and seeks over $1 million in damages.
According to the complaint, the four entities, which are identified only by their IP addresses, unlawfully scraped Twitter user data in violation of the platform’s terms of service. The lawsuit describes these IP addresses as “flooding” Twitter’s sign-up page with “automated requests,” which allegedly put a strain on the company’s servers and disrupted users’ experience.
X Corp. says it “has been unable to ascertain” the identities of all four individuals. The company alleges that their actions constituted unjust enrichment at X Corp.’s expense, noting that the defendants made a profit “from their unauthorized scraping of Twitter data.”
“In response to massive demands on X Corp.’s servers from extremely aggressive data-scrapers, X Corp. has instituted limits on how many Tweets each user could View in a given day,” the lawsuit states. “X Corp. has also limited access to Tweets for users who are not signed in to a registered Twitter account.”
This case could face some legal challenges, as the US Ninth Circuit of Appeals ruled last year that scraping publicly accessible data didn’t violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a common vehicle for anti-scraping lawsuits. In 2020, the Fifth Circuit of Appeals ruled that data scraping could be considered unjust enrichment, which seems like the stance X Corp. is taking here.
Since taking over Twitter, Musk has made numerous changes that he claims are required to stop AI companies from scooping up Twitter’s data and using it to train their large language models. Earlier this month, Twitter put temporary limits on the amount of posts users can read and also threatened to sue Microsoft over claims it “trained illegally using Twitter data” in April.