Should Paid-For Tweets Be Disclosed?

Twitter has its own "promoted tweets" mechanisms, which are easy to recognise (and ignore). Those seem fair enough — Twitter has to make money somewhere. But is it OK for people to be paid to tweet about something and not mention the fact at all?

Last night's Media Watch examined how the South Australian Tourism Commission offered payments of $750 to "high profile celebrities" to mention Kangaroo Island in one of their tweets. Singer Shannon Noll, presenter Sophie Falkiner and chef Matt Moran all took the bait, posting messages about the destination. But they didn't mention that they'd received the payment.

Clearly, much of the discussion that takes place on Twitter has an obvious agenda. If you choose to follow a major IT company, you won't be surprised to see messages promoting its products. If you follow a journalist, they'll inevitably tweet links to stories they have written.

Equally obviously, celebrities derive some of their income from advertising, and that's likely to become more important in an era where making money simply from selling content is harder. I'm not going to be surprised to see Mel B tweeting about Jenny Craig.

The slippery slope issue is whether a tweet which has been paid for, but which doesn't have an obvious commercial intent, is acceptable behaviour. Should celebrities disclose, Twitter-style, that messages have been paid for? Or Do people who take holiday spot recommendations from celebrities deserve whatever they get? Is $750 too cheap? Share your perspective in the comments.

Media Watch


    Caveat tweetitor. Celebs are brands. Anyone with half a brain ignores all branding, so doesn't read celeb tweets. That's it.

      Hit the nail dead square on the head. People follow famous people for what reason? Are they intelligent? Do they share the same interests as you? Do they live in the same "world" as you?
      So if you decide to listen to some celeb tweet about how good it is somewhere, what does it matter if they got paid or not? You aren't following them because you value their opinion, and if you were.. How does them being paid influence that?

    wtf? How would you go about making such an offer? How do you get in touch with these guys? $750 is cheap for that sort of advertising. I know a few friends that would easily pay that to promote their businesses!

    I think it's horribly sad that these B-grade "celebrities" value their integrity so cheaply. I don't think there's a dollar value you could set that would allow me to promote South Australia as a holiday destination. Or any type of destination for that matter.

      when one tweet that takes 30 seconds to write gets you a few days income, Its not too hard to see how it happens.

      You're in a slow patch, not many deals coming in...but hey, three or four tweets a week will keep you in a pretty nice lifestyle until it picks up again.

      Maybe travel around your own country more often before spewing total bs. SA could be the eastern states that are the most feral parts of SA spread over entire cities. (It makes sense being convict settlements) Hell. when in Vic, NSW and QLD, I always get noticed for being an out-of-stater because I have manners. Something people from the eastern states lack. Or it could be NT, the arsehole of the southern hemisphere (no point mentioning NT's biggest issues). What about WA...the New Zealand of Aussie states (as in no one cares about them).

      SA cops too much flak despite being the least dirty and least feral state in the entire country. Not to mention plenty of celebs Aussie and international have said SA is the best place to be because they don't get harassed. Plus, our city was planned and we're not a convict settlement which as I mentioned earlier clearly affects the general populace in terms of being decent human beings.

    Must... go... to... Kangaroo island... Cannot resist... against... celebrity promotion!...

    Shannon Noll sold out! I don't know what to believe any more...

    Unless the whole John Laws cash for comment thing was a complete waste of time, yes, it should absolutely be disclosed.

    But Twitter need to have a system to make it easier. It would be rather difficult to disclose a sponsor as well as promoting them in a 140 character message. A tickbox that labels a tweet as sponsored would make things easier.

      Agreed. If we're to have any consistency with other media, then these people should actually be prosecuted. I'm not saying I wouldn't take the money myself, but offering advertisements as personal recommendations is very dodgy.

      Yep. Just because it's "new media" doesn't mean it's exempt.

      For me this is nothing like the Cash For Comment scandal. The difference was that, John would do Ad's on his show that were clearly Ad's , and then do impromptu comments about products that were not clearly Ad's. For me these unsolicited Ad's on Twitter are more akin to a Celebrity being paid to wear Ray Ban's or Calvin Klein when being snapped by Paparazzi. Still, if you follow Shannon Noll, you are probably asking for it.

    These people are normal people, too... if someone offered you $750 to make ONE TWEET - ONCE, just mentioning a destination, who wouldn't take that up?? It's just a tweet, and in a day or so, it's disappeared into the Interwebz forever, and forgotten about... so who cares? The people barely working for the $750 don't.

      I guess you move in ethically-challenged circles. I, nor anyone I know (or care to know) would spam friends, whether it be via twitter or any other means. You expect spam from CelebBrands, but not from real people.

        .. or should that be: .. would *never* spam friends. Or maybe I'm ethically-challenged too.

      I would.

    How sad that Shannon Noll is so hard up for cash that he would do that for $750. I can see why though. He hasn't had a hit song for 5 years (unless you count his song that just managed to scrape into the ARIA Chart last year) and his last two albums tanked after only a few weeks. He is a long way from his chart topping days, and now has to resort to being one of the B grade celebrities on Dancing With The Stars. I guess $750 looks like a pretty good offer for him now. He has a wife and three kids to support. Sure isn't doing that with his music career.

    Maybe instead of mentoning an Ad they should just attach a Microsoft image over a picture of themselves. That way people will be constantly seing the word Microsoft....

      bloody jimbo, how's the beard old son?

    Twitter should probably introduce a feature that allows people to mark their own tweets as promotions (so people can then ignore them). As twitter doesn't have that feature right now I guess its a bit dodgy but not entirely unexpected.

      Twitter does mark tweets that certain brands have paid to feature as "promoted" tweets.

    Simple - put [AD] at the start of a sponsored tweet. That leaves 136 other characters in which to whore out your dignity. Should be plenty.

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