Social analytics firm PeopleBrowsr wins temporary order against Twitter

PeopleBrowsr claims Twitter's decision to provide only limited data instead of a full Firehose will hurt its business

Social media analytics service PeopleBrowsr said it has won a temporary restraining order in a California court against Twitter's decision to end its four-year old arrangement to supply data to the company.

PeopleBrowsr said late Wednesday in a blog post that the Superior Court of San Francisco had issued a temporary restraining order compelling Twitter to provide full access to Twitter's "Firehose" of Twitter messages.

In a declaration, a copy of which was linked to by PeopleBrowsr, the company's founder and CEO, John David Rich, stated that Twitter intended to terminate PeopleBrowsr's access to the Firehose on Nov. 30, which would lead to it having only access to a fraction of the data. Rich said that this would harm his company as it relies on the data to provide analytics "based on a comprehensive picture of Twitter activity."

Facebook data recently provided to PeopleBrowsr by analytics company Swaylo could only supplement but not replace Twitter data which is "a unique and essential input for PeopleBrowsr's business," Rich said.

PeopleBrowsr has built its business and invested over US$5 million and 30,000 hours developing products that rely on the full Firehose, because Twitter had repeatedly and consistently promised that it would maintain an open ecosystem for its data, and "would not use its control over data to pick which companies can succeed and by removing access create losers," according to the complaint.

Starting from July 2008 when PeopleBrowsr had access to the Firehose at not cost, the company was by July 2010 paying Twitter 25 percent of its gross revenue for access to the Firehose, according to the complaint. PeopleBrowsr said it now paid Twitter about US$1 million a year for access to the Firehose, and had entered into contracts with a number of customers who needed full access to the data.

A Twitter executive is said to have advised PeopleBrowsr to transition from the Firehose and seek access to a portion of the Firehose data through Twitter's resale partners Gnip or DataSift.

Twitter has, however, said in its opposition to the TRO that it has decided to create a structure wherein three contractors serve as intermediaries, reselling Twitter data in various forms to customers, according to reports.

Twitter was not immediately available for comment.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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