Will Twitter and Friends’ Class Action Lawsuit have any Affect on the Future of Social Media?

Social Media Applications have become one of the greatest ways to advertise and interact with your customers. These platforms have virtually changed the face of the way we market our companies. While social networks emerged to connect individuals to each other, in recent years, they’ve become more geared towards companies who want to interact with their customers on a weekly or even daily basis.

Since becoming one of the fastest and most inexpensive ways to market to customers, these sites have taken full advantage of their newly available demographics and market data. Some of these sites, however, could be walking a fine line between market data and user privacy, allowing apps to connect the users’ personal information. Twitter and 17 other companies have recently been sued by 13 people in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas for invasion of privacy.

The claim that’s been made by these 13 individuals, mostly from Austin, Texas, is that these companies applications have uploaded and stored their users’ smartphone address books for the up to 18 months without their users permission.

The 17 other companies in question include Path, Twitter, Apple, Facebook, Beluga, Yelp, Burbn, Instagram, Foursquare Labs, Gowalla (no longer in business), Foodspotting, Hipster, LinkedIn, Rovio Mobile, ZeptoLab, Chillingo, Electronics Arts, and Kik Interactive.

While only 13 individuals are currently involved in the class action case, the lawsuit claims that billions of contacts could have potentially been taken without permission or notification:

“The surreptitious data uploads–occurring over both cellular networks and open, public wireless access nodes in homes, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, stores, and businesses all across the nation–have, quite literally, turned the address book owners’ wireless mobile devices into mobile radio beacons broadcasting and publicly exposing the unsuspecting device owner’s address book data to the world.”

While many companies have yet to release a statement, Hani Durzy of LinkedIn has publicly stated that their applications do no such thing.

So what kind of affect will these practices have on the social media industry? It seems that most users accept that their demographics, personal information and sometimes even their location can be monitored by their applications and networks. In 2011, social media giant and leader of the industry issued what seemed like a public apology for the privacy violations and has seemingly been quickly forgiven by its loyal users. A search engine optimization company understands the value of social media, and can help explain how your company can benefit from a mix of SEO and social media techniques.

Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Internet marketing firm, who has been active in the SEO industry since 1995. Mr. Foster can be found on Twitter @ArteWorks_SEO. ArteWorks SEO can be found at www.arteworks.biz.