Twitter Sued For Sending SMS Ads To Recycled Numbers

Twitter has been hit with a potential class-action lawsuit accusing it of violating an anti-spam law by sending texts messages to the wrong phone number.

Taunton, Mass. resident Beverly Nunes alleges in court papers that she began receiving numerous “impersonal, promotional text messages” from Twitter last November, immediately after purchasing a new cell phone. At one point, Nunes allegedly received up to six messages a day, all from Twitter's short code. Many of those texts appeared to promote an online coupon site. For instance, one message referenced in her complaint included the phrase “There’s a new Swagcode out!” It directed her to click on a link.

Nunes says she never opened a Twitter account, let alone opt in to receive messages from the microblogging service.

“Twitter knows, or is reckless in not knowing, that its SMS text messages are sent to non-consenting, recycled cellular number subscribers,” she alleges in papers filed on Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

She alleges that Twitter is violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits companies from using an automated dialer to send SMS ads without the recipients' consent. “Twitter is responsible for verifying cellular telephone number ownership and obtaining consent before sending automated text messages to cellular telephone subscribers,” she alleges.

Nunes is seeking to represent a class of people who allegedly received text messages from Twitter. “Twitter has caused consumers actual harm, including the aggravation and privacy invasion that accompanies receiving unsolicited text messages,” she alleges. “Consumers are damaged by having to pay cellular telephone service providers for the receipt of Twitter’s unsolicited text messages.”

Nunes alleges that Twitter didn't take sufficient steps to ensure that it wasn't sending messages to “recycled” phone numbers -- such as by using a database that helps mobile marketers identify those numbers.

Twitter said through a spokesperson that the claims lack merit, and it intends to “vigorously defend ourselves against them."

Twitter isn't the only Silicon Valley company to face litigation for allegedly sending texts to the wrong recipient. Yahoo was hit with a similar lawsuit last year.

Yahoo won that case in March, when a federal judge ruled that Yahoo's SMS-sending system didn't rely on automated dialers. The consumer has appealed that ruling to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Text-Spam" photo from Shutterstock.
Tags: mobile, spam, twitter
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