Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Twitter followers for sale: Not good for building trust

It is no secret that you can buy Twitter followers.  There are several services that offer thousands of quick Twitter followers for a nominal charge.  On the surface it looks like harmless things to allow.  After all, Twitter follower count is built on top of game mechanics.  Everyone is invited to increase their follower base as if those who have signed up for frequent flyer miles.  Since airlines allow miles to be purchased, what is wrong with allowing Twitter users to buy followers?

Nothing.  As long as it's clear to everyone that followers are status that can be bought.

But that's not how Twitter is playing this game.  Twitter is saying that paying for followers is not allowed.  Yet it's not enforcing its rule to make it clear to everyone.

That is eroding overall utility of social graph.  With this pay-to-be-quickly-followed model, Twitter is closer to socioeconomic power graph than social interest graph.  And this means graph will be less valuable to everyone because the system can be gamed.  In other words, trust is lost.

I think Twitter is playing with fire by ignoring these followers-for-sale services.  As high profile case surfaces, Twitter is running the risk of alienating users hence driving down user traffic.

Mitt Romney's Twitter follower surged recently.
Many are suspecting pay-to-be-followed service is in play.

No comments:

Post a Comment