Week in Digital: the risk of sponsored tweets
By Teamspirit on Monday, 1 June 2015
Recently, a flurry of tweets were issued that were full of prejudiced language, impersonation and generally unpleasant and regressive thinking. This is not unusual, on Twitter. What is unusual, however, is the manner of their being seen by so many: they were sponsored.
Twitter's sponsored tweet system, it appears, has no filter, manual or automatic, for any language that might immediately cause a campaign to become distasteful or offensive. It's a major issue with the platform, and comes after a raft of criticism about Twitter's ability to handle hate speech or harassment.
For community managers, this is a serious issue. Twitter is a major communications channel, and it's important that promoted tweets aren't seen as an open platform for anyone who has the money. Promoted tweets can be funny, useful, informative - you can use them to alert people to a new ISA, or teach people about pension reform.
But when users lose faith in the legitimacy of a platform, it creates a problem for those talking about issues as serious and dependent on legitimacy as finance. Frustratingly, it's not an issue that can be directly addressed by any single one of us, but Twitter do appear to be working on things, albeit slowly.
In the meantime, it may be worth thinking about other social platforms and which may, if things continue the way they are, rise up and even start to overtake the 140-character microblogging service in the future. If brands, celebrities and the average user are heading elsewhere, the brands we manage must be there waiting for them. The present is tricky - but we're always able to design a better future.