Trendjacking and the Twitter Bugs

5 08 2009

The UK retailer Habitat brought the practise of hashjacking or trendjacking to the fore when it used interest in the election protests in Iran to try to sell lampshades, tarnishing its own reputation somewhat in the process.

When a word is used frequently in posts on twitter it will ‘trend’ and show up in applications like twitscoop, twazzup and on the twitter site.  These applications create clickable links so we can all see what the fuss is about. 

Increasing numbers of users users are hijacking these trending terms to sell at us. As I write a twitter user has managed to get Cory Aquino, #iranelection, Paula Abdul, Bill Clinton and North Korea into one 140 character message.   The amount of spam that now finds its way into twitter is one of the reasons that some seasoned PR practioners are seriously questioning its value.

Spammers are getting more sophisticated, setting up believable accounts with convincing tweets.  For example @mgimina and @askanditsgiven both look credible but they are sending out identical tweets at the same time and with alarming frequency.  There are at least half a dozen accounts also automated to send out the same stuff as these two.  If you do look at them take the time to block them (you don’t have to be following to do this) which will help twitter to identify the accounts for closure.   Twitter needs to clean up its act but we all need to do our bit to clear out the garbage.

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