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Twitter begins with the evil



December 23, 2011 – Comments (4)

I'm probably late to this, but I don't use Twitter all that much. I'll probably never use it again.

I went to Twitter today to stop "following" a couple of companies I was previously interested in seeing updates from, because they moved from "hey, here's our new product" to retweeting utter crap like "AwesomeDUDEZ! I just BOT new speakerz!"

Then, I noticed a "promoted tweet." Clearly, this was an advertisement. Twitter looked at my profile and interests via tweets, and they're placing advertising spam right in my feed.

I have a small problem with that, because it's opt out (if possible) and not opt in. But the most amusing thing is the way the good people of twitter twist the truth (lie, some might say) about these not really being ads.

From their pages:

Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers.

Promoted Tweets are clearly labeled as Promoted when an advertiser is paying for their placement on Twitter. In every other respect, Promoted Tweets act just like regular Tweets and can be retweeted, replied to, favorited and more.

Since all Promoted Tweets start out as regular Tweets, there is not a single “ad” in our Promoted Tweets platform that isn’t already an organic part of Twitter.

Ah, I see. They're not really ads because they're tweets already. The fact that social networks have now been entirely co-opted by PR and advertising hacks who spam ad-updates nonstop doesn't matter here. If Fred the advertiser is tweeting for Jack's Discount Tires, about their great sale, it's not really an ad, so it can show up... where exactly?


Where do users see Promoted Tweets?At the top of relevant search results pages on Promoted Tweets from our advertising partners are called out at the top of some search results pages on and through select ecosystem partners.In Search Results for a Promoted Trend. Users may also see a Promoted Tweet in the search results when they click on a Promoted Trend.Home Timelines. In some instances, Promoted Tweets may be visible within a user’s timeline if an advertiser has promoted a Tweet that is relevant to that user.Enhanced profile pages. Brands or partners with enhanced profile pages may choose to pin a Promoted Tweet to the top of their timelines. For more information on enhanced profile pages, please see this article.Official Twitter clients. Promoted Tweets from our advertising partners may also be displayed through Twitter’s official desktop and mobile clients, including TweetDeck, Twitter for iPhone, and Twitter for Android, among others.Third-party Twitter clients. We are currently syndicating our Promoted Products suite to some third-party Twitter clients, including HootSuite.

Oh, and by the way, you cannot opt out of Twitter's advertising. If twitter wants to shove advertising spam in your timeline, you'll have spam in your timeline.

Can users opt out of seeing Promoted Tweets in their timeline?We are strongly committed to delivering the most relevant ads to the right user at the right time.Users who dislike a Promoted Tweet can simply dismiss it from their timeline with a single click. But, they will not be able to opt out of seeing ads in the timeline.As always, we are paying close attention to how consumers interact with Promoted Tweets and we’ll continue to make iterations and improvements as we better understand consumer reaction.

So there it is.

I've never been an active user of Twitter, since I always considered it a lame way of instant-messaging large groups, something I can do more easily through other platforms. With Twitter holding me hostage to its smarmy new advertising, with no way of politely backing out, I'll back out the only way possible, which is not using it at all.

I doubt I'll be the only one.

4 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On December 23, 2011 at 11:23 AM, outoffocus (23.85) wrote:

Well honestly I do see promoted tweets from time to time.  And I actually benefitted from a promoted tweet about a month ago (won a $250 gift card).  They do not clog up my feed enough to be a nuisance. I'll be lucky if I see 1 promoted tweet a day.  So until they become a problem to the point where they are spamming my feed, I could really care less about them.  I guess to each its own.

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#2) On December 23, 2011 at 3:49 PM, leohaas (30.10) wrote:

Twitter is a business. Businesses need to make money or die. If you don't like what Twitter does, stop using it. It really is that simple. So it looks like you are drawing the correct conclusion.

Merry Christmas.

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#3) On December 23, 2011 at 4:17 PM, DJDynamicNC (40.44) wrote:


I don't have a problem with promoted tweets, but you're absolutely right, that description of them as "organic" and therefore not ads is a hair away from outright lying.

If I wrote a comment on this website talking about how great Twitter is, that would be organic. If I then paid the Motley Fool to put that comment on the front page, it would be an advetisement. Organic or not, it's advertising. There's really no getting around that.

Again, I don't have a problem with the action, but call a spade a spade.

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#4) On December 24, 2011 at 8:55 AM, SultanOfSwing (32.37) wrote:

I agree with #1.  As long as the % of promoted tweets on my timeline is very low, then it's nothing more than a minor annoyance.

I would like to see Twitter support more advanced searches, like regular expressions.  The one I'm dying to use is: BOO[O]+M.

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