Twitter keeps sending texts to recycled phone numbers, lawsuit says

A consumer who was hit with unwanted messages wants to start a class-action case

Promotional texts and other messages from Twitter are fine if you consent to them, but some are going out to old phone numbers that have been around the block, according to a new lawsuit.

A Massachusetts woman alleges that the social network is sending unsolicited texts via SMS (Short Message Service) to recycled phone numbers. People who have never used Twitter or have not opted into receiving texts from the company are getting messages just because their number was previously used by someone who may have consented. She wants to turn her lawsuit into a class action for other consumers like her.

Around the time that Beverly Nunes, of Taunton, Massachusetts, got a new phone last November, she started getting promotional texts several times per day from "40404," a Twitter SMS short code, according to the complaint. "There's a new Swagcode out!" one message read, referring to virtual currency that could be redeemed for retail items or gift cards.

Nunes never had a Twitter account, according to the filing.

The suit, filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco, may point to a larger issue as Internet companies try to grow their businesses using mobile messaging. Twitter makes the bulk of its advertising revenue from mobile devices, and the company is pushing hard to get more mobile users.

The suit claims Twitter automatically sends unsolicited messages to people without verifying that they have actually opted into the messages. "Twitter simply treats the new recycled cellular telephone number owner as if he or she were the previous owner," it says.

The suit also alleges that Twitter sends SMS texts to people who have expressly opted out of receiving them.

Those practices, the suit alleges, violate the U.S. Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits companies from sending automated texts to mobile phones without first receiving permission. Depending on what data plan they have, consumers may have to pay for those unwanted texts.

The suit seeks US$500 in damages for each violation of the TCPA.

John Jacobs, the lead attorney for Nunes, said the claims laid out in the suit are a substantial problem within the tech industry that would not be hard to fix. Companies such as Infutor and NextMark can identify disconnected telephone numbers before they're recycled, but Twitter does not use their services, according to the filing.

Nunes, the plaintiff, could not be immediately reached for comment. Twitter did not immediately respond to comment.

But Mike Mothner, founder and CEO at Wpromote, a digital marketing agency, said the blame belongs to both the carrier and the Internet company. "The carrier shouldn't sell consumers' numbers -- that's an issue of privacy and customer service," he said.

Twitter can capture people's cellphone numbers under a variety of circumstances. People can sign up for the service via SMS, and tweet via text message. Twitter also offers two-factor login using cellphone numbers.

In 2010 Twitter acquired Cloudhopper to scale its SMS service by connecting directly to mobile carrier networks.

Nunes may not have a case against Twitter. Yahoo was hit with a similar suit last year, but a judge recently threw it out on the grounds that Yahoo didn't use an automated redialer to transmit its text messages.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags social mediamobilesmartphonesinternetadvertisinglegaltwittersocial networkingmobile applicationsconsumer electronicsInternet-based applications and servicesCivil lawsuits

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?