• paper.li - tweet @newscrier saying stop mentions. Ctrl+F-search for newscrier here for more info.
• Commun.it - email email@example.com asking to have your Twitter account added to their blacklist
• SumAll - I don't know, they're looking into it but claim they can't do it
• TweetJukebox - I don't know, they said they'd consider adding an opt-out function
This is a small grumpy rant. In the global scheme of things if this is all I/we have to worry me/us then we're not doing too badly. But honestly, I ask you - why are we OK with automated services spamming people with irrelevant tweets about interactions etc on Twitter?
Recently I and a few other people were thanked collectively in a single tweet. While I recognised someone else in the list I'd no idea who the sender was or why it had come to me. After searching for any previous conversations we had I realised I'd replied to a tweet that had been RTed into my timeline, and I was now being thanked for doing so.
However the person hadn't sent this tweet, an automated system had. Echofon, which is a mobile Twitter app, tells you what service the person used to send the tweet (most Twitter apps don't) - I could see that this one said 'via Commun.it'.
Tweet management and analytic services like commun.it, SumAll and TweetJukebox do a bit of behind-scenes number crunching and then send auto-tweets from the accounts of people who've signed up saying things like
"Thanks to @Harry, @Hermione and @Ron for the RTs this week (insight by TweetMarketingTool)"
Perhaps my dislike of these tweets is a bit extreme but here are my objections.
- There are thousands of these identical tweets being sent from different accounts, it's pretty spammy
- It's poorly formatted. If it's meant to be sent to someone then their @name should be first, not in the middle. Presumably this means it's intending to thank people more publicly, which seems self-serving to me. Public thanking has its place (sparingly done) but pinging these out and telling all your followers about someone else's interaction with you seems odd
- It isn't sent in reply-to anything in particular (no threading to cue you into a conversation) so puzzled people might have no idea why they're receiving a tweet
- Three otherwise-unrelated people are included in the tweet for no obvious reason
- It's automated and the person whose account sent it may be unaware that they've thanked a bunch of people - algorithmically-generated gratitude doesn't come across as very genuine
Here's what Twitter says, to app / tool developers, about the need for letting users opt out (this comes from their Automation rules and best practice page -
"Automated replies and mentionsTwitter services I've been in touch with
The reply and mention functions are intended to make communication between users easier, and automating these processes in order to reach many users is considered an abuse of the feature. If your application creates or facilitates automated reply messages or mentions to many users, the recipients must request or otherwise indicate an intent to be contacted in advance. For example, sending automated replies based on keyword searches is not permitted. Users must also have a clear and easy way to opt-out of receiving automated reply messages and mentions from your application."
commun.it - email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to 'blacklist' you
I had an email exchange with commun.it after I received a couple of 'via Commun.it' tweets in May 2015, and I absolutely failed to make my point with them. They were steadfast in their belief that their product is not spam and that people like receiving automated thank yous and other identikit communications (I'm sure some of them do). My request, that I never wanted to receive another tweet via their system, was met with puzzlement and instead they tried to offer me a free trial of the VIP service. They offered some suggestions on how the wording of the automated tweet might be improved while failing to realise that it was the automatedness that's the problem. Eventually six months later they agreed to blacklist me and I've not received a commun.it spam tweet since September 2015.
TweetJukebox - no info yet on how to opt out
"THANK YOU TWEETS: When a user mentions you, where we come from it is common to "thank" them. Using our Thank You Tweet tool, you automatically thank up to 50 people for their interaction every Friday. Your jukebox system will thank the top Twitter™ users that mentioned you during the week. This feature is automatic, you don't have to do anything. Yes, that's right, more free time. Woohoo!"It is common, and polite, to thank people but it's a bit impractical to thank everyone that interacts with you on Twitter (and a little bit weird). Weirder still when it's done by a machine.
Tweet Jukebox did at least understand my bleating and may well instigate something that lets me tell its system that I never want to receive these, which is great. Can't see anything in their FAQ announcing it yet though.
SumAll - no info yet on how to opt out
Their helpful support person told me that at the moment they're unable to let people opt out from receiving automated mentions. I think that's quite bad but they've at least agreed to pass my suggestion on to their engineers.
This creates a sort of newspaper derived from information shared by people on Twitter. You can stop the service from telling you your content's been curated by sending a 'stop mentions' tweet to @newscrier. You can also stop the service from using your content by adding your site by contacting @paper_li.
I don't think many people I know receive the paper.li spam because as soon as the service began sending their tweets out in 2010 there was wailing and gnashing of teeth and the instructions were shared to stop this promptly.
Tweets I'd be happy never to see in my timeline or mentions again
- anything from Storify telling me one of my tweets has been used in it
- any automated tweet thanking me for doing normal interactive things on Twitter
- tweets telling me how well you did on Twitter, even though I like you and am happy things are going well :)
Ideally all of these kinds of tweets would be easier to switch off for users - presumably you can still get your Twitter insights sent to you, without having to tweet this information to your followers.