This morning I received a tweet in my twitter stream from some internet Bingo outfit, from an account that I don’t follow. It’s not unusual to pick up spammers on Twitter, but this one was a bit unusual – it was labelled as a “promoted tweet”. I did a spot of Googling to see what this was all about and found this help page. Here I find that…

  • 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.

Ah! It’s a spot of revenue generation by Twitter via Twitter-sanctioned spamming of user accounts. Let’s read on…

How does Twitter determine which Promoted Tweets to display in a user’s timeline?

  • A Promoted Tweet will appear in a user’s timeline only if the Tweet is likely to be interesting and relevant to that user.
  • Our platform uses a variety of signals to determine which Promoted Tweets are relevant to users, including what a user chooses to follow, how they interact with a Tweet, what they retweet, and more.

Ah, so Twitter have monitored my twitter stream (I’m not actually that prolific a tweeter, and only follow about 150 accounts) about sceptics, science, cycling, politics and the like, and has determined that I am actually interested in online bingo? How does that work? Maybe it’s a scam to get money from the online bingo by promising to tweet to soft marks, but randomly targeting accounts…

Reading on…

Can users dismiss a Promoted Tweet if they see one in their timeline?

  • Users who dislike a Promoted Tweet can simply dismiss it from their timeline with a single click, using the “Dismiss” button that appears as part of the Tweet.

And here’s the example – note the Dismiss option…

Except… there was no Dismiss option on the Twitter-sanctioned spam I received. I reported it as spam and blocked the account (which was @jackpotjoy, by the way). Unfortunately I didn’t keep a screenshot. But here’s their website, which certainly gives the impression that it’s a bog standard online gambling site seeking to relieve the more foolish among us of  money, under the promise that they might win big [I think that’s a fair description of any monetary game of chance!].

I realise that at some point Twitter will have to appease their investors and earn some dosh, but really, is springing this on people really going to help?

Shame on you, Twitter!