Twitter has a new advertising channel: your following list

No matter your school of thought on how you use Twitter, the list of people you follow now includes advertising. The first customer: MasterCard. On the web, and in the official Twitter apps for iPhone and Android, you'll find that you, and everybody else, have MasterCard as a promoted entry in your Following list.

Now, this doesn't mean that you're actually following MasterCard — they have just 388,000 followers and not the quarter-million user base of Twitter. It just means that MasterCard has managed to get an ad inserted in every following list tempting you to follow them back (at least on the iOS and web interfaces it's clear that you're not actually following them, the Android app shows the same checkmark button for accounts you're actually following and the MasterCard promotional listing). The left-to-fallow official Twitter apps for BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone, however, aren't showing the sponsored listing, nor are third-party Twitter clients.

While for most of us that's not the worst thing in the world — you're not actually seeing all of MasterCard's tweets, it is an interesting concept for advertising, especially if you're the type that looks at the list of whom somebody else is following. MasterCard is there. Everywhere you look on Twitter's following lists, you'll find MasterCard. Even for Visa and American Express. We're sure they're utterly thrilled about that.

For public figures and companies that can create an interesting conundrum. Many are cognizant of what accounts they follow. As, of all people, William Shatner noted:

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Some of suggested blocking the offending account, and it's true that it will remove MasterCard from the sponsored slot in your following list. Problem is, it's simply replaced by another entry like

So yes, your Following list and every Following list you see now contains ads masquerading as follows. You're not actually following them, and Twitter isn't explicitly saying that you are, but MasterCard is there, holding down a spot in your top ten most recent follows.

Via: Marketing Land

Derek Kessler

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

  • Gross
  • At least fix the barebones native twitter app on windows phone and Windows 8.1 seriously. Twitter you're making money from all corners.
  • That might be why we ain't getting any sponsored ads on our phones.
  • I suspect that we'll get an update... and it will basically only be for their new ad model, leaving out fixes and new features.
    That's just my guess though.
  • MasterCard has more followers than there are Twitter users? ;)
  • it would seem like it (338000>250000) haha
  • Just shows how popular they are.
  • Yeah I had to come to the comments to see if I saw that correctly!
  • Yep, same here! Read that quarter million statement at least twice.
  • Yeah, a quarter million is 250k. A quarter billion is what I assume was meant, 250M. I don't use twitter.
  • and these idiots hasn't update windowsphone app yet
  • I don't know why people use twitter!!
  • You should create an account and tweet that comment.
  • They use it because they want to. What else don't you know?
  • Well, how to you get news? Do you browser a lot of sites about what you want to know? Twitter for me is like a BREAKING NEWS thing. Sometimes someone Retweet an interesting article from a person I even don't know/follow.   Sorry if it was just a retoric question ;)
  • Never been on Twitter, though I've considered it in the past. This just makes me less-likely to join. I don't use things like AdBlock because I know companies need a source of revenue, but this kind of stuff is nasty.
  • It's not so bad. I don't look at my following list that often.
  • Next we will get mentions then DM's...........
  • "... The Official App Twitter Apps for iOS & Android..." Does that mean Windows is off the hook? I kid I kid, maybe now they'll remember to update the Windows apps ... Since Money is on the line. Denny Crane ... *drops the mic*
  • I'll never understand why people use to drop mics when they're finished talking. Those things are expensive
  • Well most people talking uses SM58's or SM57's and they are built like tanks and costs only about 150$ ;)
  • Does the article mean quarter billion? Because I'm pretty sure twitter has more than a quarter million as its user base
  • Yeah that's way wrong. The whole article is confusingly written.
  • And this remind me how great writer sam sabri was.
  • What's wrong with this statement... "they have just 388,000 followers and not the quarter-million user base of Twitter."
  • I think WinCentral needs a dedicated proof reader. And I have a feeling that there'll be a lawsuit eventually from some celeb if this continues, for the reasons that Mr Shatner mentions.
  • I love copy-editing! Pick me! :)
  • Maybe they'll update the app to include GIF support so they can also push ads on us. Funny, I joked that we wouldn't get GIF support until 2015, and here we are just 2 days away.
  • Again. Why is this site posting news about sites or services that don't or have lack luster WP support?
  • Because it calls them out publicly. A lot of people assume WP doesn't even have a Facebook or Twitter app. It validates or feelings and reminds us how much these companies suck. We discuss these issues and get angry and tweet or write or email these companies and have links to articles to sorry or claims of neglect.
  • Valid point. But, they still don't care.
  • Check it out!! Another article that has absolutely nothing to do with Microsoft :D
  • Correct your stats sir, it's 389,175+
    https// LOL this advertising is working for them.every time I refresh their account followers no. Increases by a healthy 60-70 followers. :P
  • Quarter-million twitter users?
  • Or my IQ has suddenly gone down, or this text has nothing to do with Windows.
  • Twitter have to update their app ! Since WP8.1, we're unable to share things to Twitter ! WTF
  • I don't use Twitter much but if I ever see a promoted follow from some one I already follow I will stop following them just to protest obtrusive advertising.
  • You mean MasterCard has more followers than all of Twitter itself?
  • That is highly intrusive, now I will never sign up to twitter.
  • At least having a less than equal twitter app on wp8.1 has prevented us from getting this SHlTTY "feature".