How dare Twitter try to make money!

'Promoted tweets' are not spam in any meaningful sense of the word

This one's for Twitter users; the rest of you may move about the cabin unless you're curious.

Twitter today announced that it will soon begin introducing "promoted tweets" - advertising messages, basically -- into user timelines (their catch-all tweet stream) and based on the reaction in some circles you might think that Twitter had literally unleashed a pack of spammers on its user base.

You might think that because some pundits and their followers literally accused Twitter of unleashing a pack of spammers on its user base.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The only companies and organizations that will be allowed to send us "promoted tweets" are those whose Twitter accounts we have already freely chosen to follow and who have in turn been chosen by Twitter to enjoy the privilege of paying Twitter to do so.

Keep in mind that these companies and organizations that we've chosen to follow are already allowed to send us tweets whenever they please and that those tweets, as often as not, are already advertising in tweet's clothing. Some 330,000 Twitter users follow @cocacola, for example; I'm not one of them, but to each his own.

The only difference with "promoted tweets" (near as I can ascertain) is that the advertisers -- let's call them that for the sake of clarity -- are paying Twitter to ensure that their tweets (advertising messages) are at or near the top of our timelines when we first log on to Twitter. At that point they will drift away in the tweet stream (or, if yours is as crowded as mine, disappear in the gushing torrent). If that disappearance doesn't happen fast enough, you'll be able to dismiss the promoted tweet with one click. And, if that still isn't enough to remove the stench of commerce from your timeline, you may unfollow the offending Twitter account, thus ensuring that you will not hear from its capitalist sponsor again.

Of course, you could have assured that previously by not having chosen to follow the commercial account in the first place.

So let's recap:

We have already expressed interest in the advertiser and given our explicit permission for it to send us tweets (even commercial ones) by following the advertiser's Twitter account. The advertising tweet is not bolted in place, but rather moves along like any other message. And, there are clear, easy remedies should you nonetheless remain displeased.

If only that's what spam was really like.

Twitter believes that "promoted tweets" will prove popular because many will carry time-sensitive bargains that users would miss out on if not for the fact that they were flagged for attention at log-in.

Yes, I understand that the safeguards Twitter has put in place for the launch of "promoted tweets" could disappear next week and our timelines could become littered with messages from brands we have not agreed to follow.

If that happens, we'll discuss this again.

Until then, Twitter needs to make a buck.

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