The National Mall in DC is a fantastic place for everyone. It is often bustling with tourists from around the United States and around the world. The draw of taxpayer-supported Smithsonian museums, wide open space for people to walk, or eat, or socialize and beautiful scenery of the center of American government keeps the area bustling all the time.
The National Mall, much like the Roman forum where people came to freely exchange ideas and thoughts without pretense, is a public space that is open to anyone doing just about anything. However, there are certain things that are certainly not welcome on the mall. Without a license, you’re generally not allowed to sell things. You’re not allowed to, without license, setup your own sound system and hold a concert of some sort. You’re not allowed to have sex, or perform other activity considered “indecent”.
Twitter is that forum, that National Mall. It is a beautiful thing that allows for the free exchange of ideas and views. People converse and challenge each other. They unite behind causes, events and people. It’s great. However, recently, several “indecent” examples have cropped up. Specifically, with monetization of Twitter. Monetization of Twitter, depending on how it’s done, is polluting the common area. It is an obscene money grab, and I’m tired of it.
For instance, there is Magpie that will automatically insert a tweet into your tweet stream every 5 messages.
The only disclosure is a #magpie hashtag. Josh Catone calls it a “terrible idea” saying:
You could find yourself shilling for something you’d rather not be. Unlike Google AdSense or other forms of display advertising, tweets that go out to your followers coming with your name attached and your implicit endorsement.
Twittad is less intrusive, and has less potential of affecting the Twitter community. With this model, advertisers “buy the background” of a Twitter users page. The only time it is offensive is if I am visiting a Twitter page that has such an ad.
Chitika has jumped on board by extending their advertising options to Twitter as well. In an email sent out this morning to their publishers, the company suggests its publisher tweet their referral link and provides the copy to do so:
If you are on Twitter, you can easily tweet your Chitika referral link to earn some extra revenue. For any user who signs up via this link, we will pay you 10% of their total earnings for a full 15 months. (Don’t worry – this money doesn’t get taken out of their checks. We pay this as a bonus to you!)
Post to Twitter: I’m earning good revenue from Chitika – you can check them out here: [link removed]
Very invasive. According to Chitika.com, the advertiser boasts 34,000 websites. If each one of those website owners tweeted their referral link, that is 34,000 tweets. By my best guess, that is an entire week of tweets that come across my tweetstream. Uh, no.
There is at least one other company that is getting ready to launch an advertising for Twitter option. In fairness to them, and because I don’t know what it’s going to look like yet, I won’t out them. However, I think it’s important to note that there will be more of these is Twitter users naively buy into the “easy money” routine. There is no such thing as easy money, and you will ruin your reputation if you engage in cheap money grabs on Twitter. I, for one, will immediately unfollow anyone engaging and I’m sure I will not be the only one.
Update: It’s been brought to my attention that the #magpie hashtag is no longer required, making it an even sleazier and subversive service.