Brands pay Twitter to falsely appear in your following list

Posted: December 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

Gigaom

A Twitter advertising technique is perturbing people. Promoted brands like MasterCard and IFC are appearing in the list of accounts some users follow, even if they don’t actually follow them.

Sources familiar with the company’s advertising strategy tell me this has been occurring since early 2013, but the public has only just now cottoned onto it thanks to actor William Shatner (of Star Trek fame). Shatner brought attention to it after he saw that “MasterCard” appeared in his following list despite the fact that he didn’t follow it. He did a little investigation and discovered that the same promoted account appeared on Dwayne Johnson’s follower list, looking a little out of place given “The Rock” only followed one other account.

Twitter has long been a proponent of native advertising, making its money off promotions that look like a regular part of the Twitter landscape (instead of, say, a banner ad). People are accustomed to promoted…

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