Magpie. It's enough to make you question the true motives of any outspoken fan and the end result is pretty laughable when you take "a bird's eye view."What are you doing? No what are you doing Apple, Skype, Flip, StubHub and Box.net?? These popular companies just couldn't resist paying off Twitter users to put advertisements into their Twitter streams using the new pay-per-tweet service
We were disappointed when a browser script showed us a Magpie redirect behind a shortened link in a Skype testimonial today. Then we used a search on the service BackTweets to find out who else is buying fake Tweets on the service. It's so revolting and pitiful that it's kind of sad.
Each of these companies have more than one campaign running and these are all just from the last 6 hours! Magpie is spewing Tweets through peoples' accounts all day long. All of the links are obscured by URL shortening service is.gd (hope they are getting a cut!) and the clicker ends up on the advertiser site. Clearly disclosure isn't mandatory; but even if it was this is just creepy, is it not?
Update: As a number of commenters and at least one of these companies have pointed out, it's not the companies themselves buying these ads - it's most likely outside affiliates. So direct your frustration to whoever is in charge of affiliate programs at these companies, not in house ad buyers. Update again: Box.net's participation in this program has been de-activated by Magpie based on the comment left by the company's CEO below. The company says they'd been trying to remove their affiliate links from Magpie prior to this story running.
Update: Four days later Stubhub tells us they have also given Magpie the boot from their affiliate program.
AppleWe thought Apple was able to secure enough mind control with its design prowess that it didn't have to pay for it! We presume that when most of these people say they bought one of these devices recently, they are flatly lying. Apple is paying them to lie like a robot to their friends on Twitter. Nice.
SkypeWe especially like that one of the users here is named "High and Noble." Uh, yeah.
The company that makes those Flip cameras just got bought by Cisco for almost $600 million dollars - because everyone loves the Flip.
We know and like the people at online storage company Box.net. Their CEO didn't respond to our inquiry about the use of Magpie, but we'll give him a hard time about it next time we see him. The last user in this picture is an account that just aggregates other peoples' Tweets about farting - and then throws in Magpie ads. Classy all around!
Update: Box.net's participation in this program has been de-activated by Magpie based on the comment left by the company's CEO below.
Ok, so StubHub might not be the kind of company you'd be shocked to find out participates in this kind of thing, but the informal language and appeals to family in this one struck us. Update: Four days after publication of this post, Stubhub contacted us to let us know that they are no longer allowing Magpie to be part of their affiliate program.
Ok, we don't know FatCow Web Hosting from a hole in the wall but the language here again is really remarkable. Dear FatCow "fans": you are allowing yourself to be turned into a lying robot zombie for a few dollars a month! Have you no shame?
So there's the Twitter-sphere for you! Bring on "real time search," bring on a globally connected community, bring on vapid, vile, stupid shilling. It all seems pretty sad to me. And to the advertisers out there - is this cynical scheme the best you can do to engage with all the new ways people are communicating online? That's pretty bad.
You can find ReadWriteWeb on Twitter, as well as the entire RWW Team: Marshall Kirkpatrick, Bernard Lunn, Alex Iskold, Sarah Perez, Frederic Lardinois, Rick Turoczy, Sean Ammirati, Lidija Davis and Phil Glockner. We won't try to sneakily sell you anything!