True P2P File Sharing Via Twitter: FileTwt

FileTwt is a new service that enables file transfers using Twitter, from presentations and rich text documents to ebooks and music files.

At the moment, the UI is a bit clunky and the file sizes are capped at 20MB, but the service presents an exciting opportunity nevertheless. Once mobile capabilities are introduced, FileTwt would allow more freedom for the 9-to-5ers among us. And it already allows for mass sharing (either via public streams or multiple-recipient DMs) of files, which is awesome news for self-marketing musicians, who desperately need better online promotional tools.

At the moment, there are a couple too many clicks and redirects to make the process completely efficient. Sending files from the web interface isn’t too complicated, but downloading sent files takes a few steps: The user is taken to the RapidShare site, then to a new page for the specific file download. He then must wait 30 seconds (for non account-holders) to begin downloading the file.

Here’s an initial test DM:

Here’s the FileTwt page for the download:

Redirect! The adventure continues at RapidShare’s site:

But RapidShare wants you to consider a paid account for a few seconds:

Finally: The download.

Filetwt is now uploading files only to RapidShare. They plan to add more hosts, namely DepositFiles, FileFactory, and MegaUpload, in about one week.

The 20MB file size limit has been instated to allow the startup to remain profitable, since any significant volume of traffic will mean more server bandwidth. Premium accounts for larger file shares will be introduced in the event that a significant number of users demonstrate a demand for increased bandwidth usage, according to company representative Ankit Sakhuja.

“We see Filetwt as more of a document sharing tool,” he wrote in an email Sunday afternoon. “The private share option was introduced specifically for that purpose.”

He noted that site developers are also working on a better user interface, a progress bar for uploads, and a virus scan, among other features.

As with any peer-to-peer file-sharing service, copyright infringement and piracy are immediately raised as primary concerns. The site states, “It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” no other information is given. Particularly for direct messages, how would FileTwt receive notice of illegally distributed files? Unlike the downloads that occur on larger P2P or torrent-sharing sites, these transactions are primarily going to be one-to-one or one-to-a-select few.

However, RapidShare has been successfully sued in a German court in 2007 over copyright infringement, specifically for MP3s. Although the DMCA Safe Harbor clause might prevent RapidShare and similar file-hosting companies from prosecution in the U.S., it certainly makes no exception for end users. Ultimately, users are given the standard “enter at your own risk” caveats with little available information on exactly how illegal one-to-one MP3 sharing is or what the consequences (or likelihood of getting caught and being prosecuted) are.

Finally, we’ve concluded through our own testing of the service that smartphones and other mobile devices do not handle FileTwt well. But of course, FileTwt is working on mobile apps, which Sakhuja promises will be “one-of-a-kind.”

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