If you ever watch television these days, you often see tweets included in advertising. Usually they are some glowing compliment about the product or service. The validity of these tweets has never really been questioned, but a recent promotion for the Twitter ad platform revealed that there might be something nefarious going on behind the scenes.
SFGate first reported that in a promotional blog post, Twitter posted a shot of a Twitter ads dashboard showing tweets from users' positive reactions to television commercials.
The catch? These were real users and the tweets were fake.
To add to the controversy, the Twitter users whose likenesses were used in the tweets, not only didn't tweet what was represented, but had no idea they were being used in that way. SFGate contacted the users whose avatars and account names were featured saying bogus things, and they expressed their frustration.
"It's disturbing and has no place," said Neil Gottlieb, whose fake tweet said, "What is the song in the new @barristabar commercial? I love it!!"
This tweet, along with the the fake tweets, do not exist in the users timelines, only as fake retweets by the Twitter Ads account.
Later Twitter either realized their error or was replying to the backlash, but changed the attribution of the fake tweets to Twitter Ads employees. They told the real account holders that they were fixing the problem, implying that it was not intentional. Yet, does the marketplace really believe that? As shady as social media companies (Facebook) tend to be sometimes in their quest to prove they have a profitable business, can we really believe that Twitter is being honest in this being a mistake? Plus, their one tweet apology was pretty weak for such a large and influential company.