Twitter Tweet Jerks

by Fred Showker
Don't tweet thisAs you may have observed, as I have, the twitosphere* seems to be spawning a new generation of undesirables; just like all other areas of the online connected world has done for years. The problem with 'Tweet-Jerks' is it seems to be operating totally unnoticed by the tweeting population of the web. Evidence the fact that honest tweeters pick up the tweet-jerks and re-tweet it. This causes a chain of tweet-jerks, and indirectly implicates the innocent tweeter -- while taking a possibly unscrupulous tweeter viral.

Many tweets I find in the twittersphere are tweets of tweets of tweets. A number of tweeters we've started following have evidenced a habit of tweeting the very same tweets repeatedly at intervals throughout several days. It's sort of a sleazy way of getting your web blog mentioned and seen, but it appears to work.

I've also found tweeters tweeting as if the idea were theirs, when it was previously tweeted by umpteen tweeters in the tweet-jerks chain. This too is sort of slimy. There should be a rule that if you TWEET, then make sure you should tweet the ORIGINAL resource, rather than blogs that point to blogs that point to blogs.

One found today tweets about someone else's blog, but pulls their blog up in a FRAME on the tweeter's web site. That's just downright dishonest.

The blogsphere is also suffering from the same cancer -- growing at an alarming rate. I have watched one malignant blog for some time as it spereads across the internet. So far, the blogger has spread to ten blogs, all originating from the same IP block, domains owned by the same owner, etc. But each of the blogs are named totally different, have a totally different look and feel, and even claim to be authored by totally different people. Of course there are blinking ads everywhere, even in the middle of the context of the blog post. These are blogatutes. (Like prostitutes.)

The MO goes like this: the blogger gathers pictures from other people's Flickr or Deviant Art sites, then puts them in a page promoting "10 wonderful somethings.." or "30 killer this or that..." This seems to excite other bloggers who then feverishly blog about it. (Since they don't actually anything original to blog about on their own.) Then the jerks-blogger will use an automated program to post the SAME content to the other ten blogs plus their accounts for Delicious, Stumble, FaceBook, MySpace and umpteen others they're propagating. Then they cross-comment it amongst other blogs and forums as if not associated with the blogs. So now you have a blog that points to a blog that points to a blog, and so forth, that all happen to be feeding the RSS channels as if they were unique works of journalism. Then thousands of innocent bloggers blog about the posting, resulting in what is termed "viral marketing"* -- allowing the blog-jerks to make a living, doing nothing, with 10,000 times as many views and clicks as honest bloggers.

Some have even taken this to extremes by having a botnet or other automated IA crawl the web, posting links to any / every blog, forum or discussion group it can find. Now, that's called SPAM, and it's highly detested by forum and blog owners everywhere.

Enter Twitter:

Now these blogs become tweet-jerks by tweeting about their blogs. The twittersphere, in the relentless pursuit of 'going viral' tweets and retweets those tweets ad nauseam.

In the 'old' days, this same practice was called 'cross posting.' It was frowned upon by the honorable users of the internet. (And networks like Compuserve, Delphi and AOL long before the internet took off.) True journalists have disdain for quoting the wrong spokes person. Like a blog quotes "Joe smith said..." but when you track it down, Joe didn't say it, he pointed to a NYT article where "Sam said..." but when you track that one down you find that Sam didn't say it, he was quoting someone else. At some point you have no idea who said it, but Joe is taking the credit. Casual folk take it for gospel; not taking the effort to track it down before they quote it.

There's really no law against it -- it's just sloppy and in poor taste. It's what many have seen as the end of journalism*. Most of the twittersphere will say there's nothing wrong with it because they're too busy tweeting to get new followers. In reality it's pretty underhanded -- the jerks are exploiting the system for personal gain without doing much work or producing any worthy benefit for their readers.

Here's my question: is this okay with you?

NO TWEETS If you're going to tweet, shouldn't you tweet the originator of the tweeted subject -- NOT another tweeter or blogger who tweeted or blogged about what they received or saw from another blog or tweet? Should the recipient of such tweets be forced to navigate back through a dozen layers of blogs to arrive at the originator of the subject of desire?

I'm just asking.

Thanks for reading

Fred Showker

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Interesting links ... Bloggers Must Disclose Paid Endorsements

Twitphilia & Twitanoia: Controlling Technology is an op-ed article by R. A. Louis wherein he refers to "Joe Blogger." (joe-blogger = the average blogger, sort of like "Sam the plumber" )

The Twitter Glossary is a page by Adam 'joe-tweeter' with some of the words that have become popularized with the advent of Twitter.


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