From Alexey Karamazov to Captain Kirk to corporate spokesman, William Shatner’s range is rivaled only by his odd syntax. That might be why few are questioning the legitimacy of his latest role: social-media watchdog and tastemaker.
This summer, Shatner made headlines after publicly flogging Facebook’s new “Mentions” service. Calling it “ill conceived,” Shatner said at the time: “I’m not quite sure why Facebook released this app.”
Now, Shatner is taking Twitter to task for letting brands hijack users’ “Following” lists -- including his own.
As the actor recently tweeted, MasterCard mentions have been appearing on his Following list, although he never followed the credit card brand.
“Why am I following MasterCard when I didn't add them?” Shatner asked in a tweet. “I do not appreciate this.”
Twitter’s Follower Campaign ads are designed to promote brands across Timelines, Who to Follow suggestions and search results. But extending the ads to users’ Following lists is a betrayal of their trust, Web watchers say.
As Danny Sullivan reports in Marketing Land, the problem appears to go far beyond Shatner’s Tweet account, and likely stems from an existing Twitter policy. “Twitter has long allowed advertisers to buy followers by promoting their accounts in Twitter timelines and elsewhere,” Sullivan reports. “Twitter is putting ads into Following lists, something it says is over a year old, but clearly not noticed much before now.”
Shatner, for one, doesn’t like the fact that Follower campaigns are putting promoted accounts into his Following lists.
Addressing Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Shatner asks in a tweet: “Do you understand that by implying that I follow these companies that it appears to be an endorsement?”
Twitter did not return requests for comment by press time.