Since its inception, the Internet has offered us all thousands of new and exciting ways to sell out. Today, another one gets added to the pile. Sponsored Tweets, from IZEA, are finally active. In essence, the service allows you to register your Twitter account and set your minimum acceptable price-per-tweet and price-per-view. Companies can then browse Sponsored Tweets and pick out which users they want to hire for their campaign.
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As this article on Mashable points out, Sponsored Tweets represent a major and permanent shift for Twitter. Corporations have been using Twitter as an ad vector for months now, but this is different. This service turns Twitter accounts into commodities. If you're famous enough (online or off) you can make quite a lot of money shilling for one product or another via Tweets.
To me, this sounds like the death of sincerity on Twitter. Plenty of people have agendas that they use their Twitter account to further, but this seems somehow different. Before if people were trying to advance an agenda, it was at least their own agenda. Of course AppleFan89 is going to rave enthusiastically and link every piece of Mac news that comes across his desk. That's not objectionable, but the idea of him getting paid to rave about some crappy iPod peripheral is.
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The coming of Sponsored Tweets is going to ruin a lot of people's faith in Twitter. They'll see their favorite celebrity tweets turn into fawning advertisements for products and services. Every paid tweet is supposed to be identified as such, but how many new or casual users will ever know or catch that? Perhaps I'm being old-fashioned and ornery, but nothing about this new service sounds like a good idea to me. Hopefully Twitter really knows what they're doing here.