The company attributed fake statements to real people in the screenshot for its ‘Amplify’ advertising product
Twitter has issued a public apology after it emerged the company used real accounts of users in a promotional screenshot for new advertising tools and put words in their tweeting mouths, without asking for their permission.
The screenshot depicting statements by three Twitter users was originally released on the company’s blog on Tuesday, to illustrate how its new ‘Amplify’ TV ad targeting works.
However, SFGate discovered that none of the owners of the accounts quoted had at any time posted the tweets attributed to them, or had any idea that their account names and avatars were used by the company.
Twitter has since admitted it made a mistake, apologised to the users and changed the offending screenshot.
The image that caused the controversy featured three accounts discussing a TV advert for a US coffee house chain Barista Bar.
Twitter’s ‘Amplify’ product, launched earlier this week in the US, allows advertisers to promote TV spots on the digital platform at the same time they are running on TV. The company claims that the combination of television and Twitter results in up to 95 percent stronger message association and 58 percent higher purchase intent, when compared to TV advertising alone.
It turned out that the content of the tweets was fake, but the pictures and the account names belonged to real people, who weren’t too happy about the US business using their accounts. For example, on the screenshot William Mazeo from Brazil supposedly said “I wish I could make fancy lattes like in the @barristabar commercial”.
However, real William never tweeted anything like this. After the story came to light, he asked Twitter to remove his details from the promotion. Other victims of the promotion included Neil Gottlieb, a distance runner from the US, who described the incident as “disturbing”, and Subhash Chander, a retired IT worker from India.
Twitter has issued a public apology and altered its campaign, replacing accounts of the three users with accounts of the employees of its advertising department.
“An earlier version of this blog post included an image with mock Tweets from real users of our platform. This was not OK,” said the company. “Once we became aware of this mistake we took it down immediately. We deeply apologise to the three users included in the earlier images.”
However, the apology failed to appease Gottlib:
Still nothing but an empty apology from Twitter for violating my privacy. “Confusion”, they claim? By whom? Never OK to violate privacy — Neil Gottlieb (@Neil_Gottlieb) July 24, 2013
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