X Corp., the company formerly known as Twitter, is suing Israel-based web data collection company Bright Data Ltd. over alleged unauthorized scraping and selling of content and user data pulled from the social media platform.
According to the complaint filed in the California Northern District Court, Elon Musk’s X accuses Bright Data of building an “illicit” data-scraping business on the back of tech companies like X Corp., which operates the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. In the lawsuit, it is alleged that Bright Data automatically scrapes large volumes of content and data to sell to third parties and offers automation software that allows users to scrape data directly from the social media site, in violation of the platform’s terms of service.
“Bright Data scrapes and sells millions of records from X Corp.’s X platform, in blatant violation of X Corp.’s Terms of Service, by which Bright Data is bound,” X Corp. alleges in the lawsuit. “Bright Data also induces and facilitates other X users to violate their own agreements with X Corp. by selling automated data-scraping tools and services that specifically target a wide range of X Corp. data.”
Scraping is the process of using automated means to collect content or data from a website. Founded in 2014, by serial entrepreneurs Ofer Vilenski and Derry Shribman, Bright Data has developed a data collection automation platform that offers a number of services, including a scraping browser, to help small businesses, academic institutions, and public sector bodies retrieve and gather large amounts of publicly available online data.
This allows businesses, including online retailers and brand wholesalers, to research, monitor, and analyze information about consumer sentiment by gauging how a product or brand is perceived through social media posts on sites including X and TikTok and e-commerce sites, including Amazon and eBay, to make better informed decisions. The platform is used by more than 20,000 customers worldwide, according to the startup’s website.
Additionally, X Corp. accuses Bright Data of intentionally violating its terms of service “because the company and its executives are registered X account holders who have agreed to abide by the terms. The terms of the service state that a user may not “access, tamper with, or use non-public areas of the Services, our computer systems, or the technical delivery systems of our providers,” and state that “scraping the Services without our prior consent is expressly prohibited,” it is claimed in the complaint.
In an e-mailed response to the lawsuit, Bright Data CEO Or Lenchner said that “Twitter’s lawsuit is an effort to build a wall around publicly available data on Twitter.”
“It has no basis,” Lenchner exclaimed. “Bright Data is transparent in its public web data collection practices and fully compliant with the law. We collect public web data for more than 20,000 customers worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies, academic institutions, non-profits, NGOs and large social media networks.”
“We are committed to making public data broadly available to everyone to benefit society and will vigorously defend our position in court to ensure the Internet remains accessible to all,” he added.
The lawsuit comes as the social media platform announced that it is limiting the number of tweets users can view each day which Musk has reasoned as a move to stop unauthorized scraping of potentially valuable data.
With the action against Bright Data, X Corp. seeks “injunctive relief” to stop the web data collection company’s unauthorized use of its platform as well as compensatory damages.