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Twitter slams top five spammers with legal suit

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Twitter has filed a legal suit against five entities for selling tools that send out spam tweets and clog up its network.

The suit names TweetAttacks, TweetAdder, and TweetBuddy, plus James Lucero of Justinlover.info and Garland Harris of Troption.com as its targets. In the legal filing, Twitter says that it has had to pour resources into its Trust and Safety team to try to stop spam, and has spent nearly a million dollars to counter the effects of the five defendants.

"With this suit, we're going straight to the source. By shutting down tool providers, we will prevent other spammers from having these services at their disposal. Further, we hope the suit acts as a deterrent to other spammers, demonstrating the strength of our commitment to keep them off Twitter," the company said on its blog.

The filing points out that all of the accused have signed up for a Twitter account, which involves signing the terms of service that specifically prohibit spam generation, as well as selling software that also breaks Twitter's terms. Furthermore, they market their code specifically as being able to circumvent existing spam controls.

As for the goal of the suit, Twitter wants the defendants to be shut down and claims damages equal to the amount it estimates they have cost the company. That works out at $300,000 for TweetBuddy , $150,000 for TweetAttacks, a $100,000 bill for James Lucero, and for TweetAdder and Garland Harris, $75,000 apiece.

Twitter made clear that it wasn't just relying on the legal system in its anti-spam campaign, but is beefing up security-engineering efforts as well. Just how successful it is will depend upon the ability of spammers to react technologically, and whether or not they are worried about their legal position. ®

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