Twitter has been experimenting with selling ad space in users’ ‘Following’ lists

Pretty much everything that is free is free because of advertising. It’s one of the facts of life. It’s been no secret that Twitter has been looking for more ways to earn ad revenue from its site, and it appears it’s been experimenting with putting adverts into your ‘Following ‘lists.

How do we know this? Because famed actor William Shatner has been kicking up a fuss about it after discovering Mastercard in the list of people he follows during the early hours of this morning.

Shatner then discovered he’s not the only one affected either.

In fact, a number of non-famous people have come forward and told Marketing Land’s Danny Sullivan that Mastercard had mysteriously appeared in their Following list as well.

Annoyingly blocking a promoted account doesn’t seem to help either, and it just meant that another mysterious follower appeared in your Following list.

There is always some silver lining, though, and these adverts actually made it look like rival card company Visa was following Mastercard.

But therein lies the problem. Shatner pointed out to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey that it could be mistaken for an endorsement. When you understand what’s going on it seems funny that it would look like Visa is following one of its biggest rivals on Twitter, but to someone not in the loop it might make look like Visa is endorsing its rival by following them. We all know how seriously some people take social media after all.

Twitter does need to make money, but there gets to a point where it does seem like its just sticking adverts wherever it can. On the home page and in people’s feeds is one thing, but this is a step in the wrong direction. Clearly the whole experiment had not gone down very well, andaccording to The Next Web the adverts have been removed. As far as I can see, Twitter has yet to comment on the matter publicly.

Tom Pritchard