Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has said recently that the service will be a success when people stop talking about it and just accept it as a utility. With MediaPost talking about the proliferation of porn and spam that chatter isn’t likely to end anytime soon. That is, of course, unless Twitter does something about it.
Nude and explicit photographs have become more common on Twitter. While the site has begun to gain momentum for marketing and customer service departments looking to promote products and services, or connect with customers, it has taken a bit of a dark turn into the world of spam, pornography and escort services.
Needless to say, marketers relying on the site to promote family values tied to goods and services don’t seem too thrilled by the topless photo of Mcdowell407 and the accompanying tweet that talks about how badly one boyfriend treats her. Nor do they appreciate the half-dressed women in bra, garters, stockings and stilettos who promote escort services, such as Taylor, by clicking on the “follow” tag. Twitter did not respond to requests for comment.
Other companies using Twitter to reach their audiences are feeling the same way as do those who are regular users of the service. While it may be easy to just brush this off as “The Internet is the Internet” Twitter may be called to a higher standard. eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna says
“If Twitter builds an advertising-supported model, they will need to develop a way to isolate the content,” he says. “YouTube did. Facebook did it. They had to be tough cops when it came to the content. On the one hand, they try to provide an open platform, but on the other, if they don’t set limits it could backfire.”
Verna says getting a handle on the spam and the sexually explicit material is another thing Twitter must fix, along with the ability to authenticate celebrity accounts — something they have stumbled with during the last few months.
While I was once would have been sure that this is no surprise to Twitter I can’t say that with complete confidence anymore. It looks pretty obvious that they will not just be able to act as if it isn’t happening. The first reason for this is that the fix for the problem is not rocket science according to Amichai Shulman — CTO at Imperva, an online security company based in Israel and Redwood Shores, Calif.
“The information from the feeds is either based on IP addresses or links, and there are services on the Internet that track and send notifications about known distributors of offending material,” he says. “It would be simple for Twitter to interface with one of those services providers to filter out at least 90% of that content.”
He feels that while the Twitter community is doing good work in policing their territory the onus should fall on Twitter to make more of an effort and it shouldn’t be too much for them to take on this kind of project.
If Twitter does just turn the other beak and not take the same ‘high road’ of YouTube and Facebook it could end up hurting it’s viability as a business tool. Ben Smith, MerchantCircle CEO cuts to the chase.
“The problem with this type of activity is that it undermines the trust in the communication channel, which will have a disastrous effect on the channel.”
So Twitter has another issue to be concerned about that will get the attention of everyone. When you are as successful as they are everyone looks to see how problems like this are handled. Of course, the critics will always want more. Ask Google. Success comes with a high price. Now if they could only make money from someone for something. We’re all still watching for that trick.