WeTransfer goes completely Trump; harasses media to take down stories [UPDATED]

WeTransfer goes completely Trump; harasses media to take down stories [UPDATED]

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UPDATED: official statement of WeTransfer below.

One of my favorite Dutch startups is WeTransfer. Or should I say “was”? In an outrageous attempt to have a reference to them in a story about a competitor, Eindhoven-based file-transfer service Skotty.io, deleted, this is what happened today. Daniel Verlaan, a tech-journalist, wrote a piece on the tech-startup Skotty.io where he mentions a quote of the company’s founder, saying: “We want to be a safe, privacy-friendly, WeTransfer-like service.”

Nothing wrong with that, right? WRONG.

In a series of tweets, Verlaan reveals RTL “out of the blue” received “threatening language” from a lawyer with demands to take down the article permanently.  As Verlaan eloquently puts it: “WTF?”

And: “So if you were thinking, WeTransfer is a nice, Dutch club: think about how they treat journalists.”

In genuine lawyer jargon: “They found the text to be factually incorrect, illicit, and needlessly grievous.”

Wow.

Clearly, someone decided to go completely Trump on him. According to Verlaan, the lawyers of the filesharing service have managed to take down one article, from Metro Nieuws (dead link here).

After the series of tweets, WeTransfer who was unavailable over the phone to the RTL-reporter, reached out and apologized. Some twitter users are claiming to use Skotty.io from now on. So am I. Sorry WeTransfer, but this is entirely on you.

As Joost Schellevis, tech-reporter at Dutch public broadcaster NOS, asks himself (or us): “What if they pull this stunt with a party with less resources to defend themselves.”

Well, in that case, we always have Twitter to turn to.

Verlaan claims it’s now with RTL’s legal department: “To be continued.”

Since then, we have received an official statement from WeTransfer:

We are sorry for the way this situation developed. Security and privacy have always been core values of WeTransfer which underpin our users’ trust in the platform. That means we take any accusation or suggestion that WeTransfer is not safe very seriously.

As a brand committed to freedom of expression, we are open to criticism and do our best to respond accurately, honestly and professionally. In this instance our legal team was called in too quickly. We should have dealt with the comments in question in a less confrontational way.

Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more updates in the tech startup world.

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