A PYMNTS Company

U.S. Dispute over sale of Twitter’s massive information flow leads to far-reaching antitrust concerns

 |  November 29, 2012

Reports say that social analytics company PeopleBrowsr has won a temporary restraining order against Twitter to uphold a deal between the two companies for Twitter to sell its stream of personal information to PeopleBrowsr, an agreement that Twitter had been looking to end by November 30. Twitter has an agreement with several companies to sell them a “fire hose” of the personal data and information that gets uploaded onto the social networking site daily by its more than 500 million active users. The companies use the information bought from Twitter to find meaningful insights into what Twitter users are saying, and then sell that aggregation of information to another source. The conflict comes at a time when Twitter has decided to be more selective when choosing which social analytics companies can buy and have access to the flow of information. Twitter apparently has limited the number of companies who can buy the fire hose of information to 20, while other companies who would like the information can access part of it as a third party through two companies approved to re-sell the information, Gnip and Datasift.

PeopleBrowsr, however, is arguing that the move is anticompetitive on Twitter’s part, as PeopleBrowsr will no longer gain full access to the stream of information if it has to go through Datasift or Gnip to get it. In a claim filed in the superior court of California, PeopleBrowsr is also arguing that it will no longer be able to deliver on its existing contracts with the Department of Defense, among other entities, if it can no longer gain full access to Twitter’s information. Some experts are saying that this case is part of a larger picture involving concerns that Twitter dominates the market when it comes to the aggregation and selling of personal information of its users. The case also comes at a time when Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Competition Policy Joaquin Almunia recently remarked that the transference of personal information gained through social networking sites may be the latest issue to face antitrust authorities around the globe.

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