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Auto-DM = Auto Dump; but why?



The End of an Era?

I am not sure what knuckle-head came up with the ability for Twitter users to automatially direct message those who follow them, but they really could have used their skillset elsewhere.  The entire premise of social media is personal interaction.  But what I don’t want to do is preview and follow someone, only to get junk mail in return.  

I lament the days of old (you know 12-18 months ago) when I first got involved in Twitter and had a great core of folks who were also finding their way through this venue.  Now everyone seems to be solely engaging the system, with the desire to skip right past the relationship building and mutual sharing, and go right to “hey come buy my project”.  That “come buy my project” is the first interaction we get, right after “will you follow me?”  My new answer is NO.  If you send me an automatic message, than that’s a great sign that you don’t get it and your intent is not to share with peers.  

I’m starting to wonder if the system is becoming tainted and exactly how long it will be before I just revert to Facebook to share…


There have been countless posts done about the power of networking and Twitters ability to build connections.  When I said that I lament those connections, I meant it.  Twitter was a lot of fun with 40 core followers.  I still feel like I have a good connection with them and it has transcended to IRL meetups and national friendships.  None of these meetings or friendships would I trade for anything.  

I was goofing around on Twitter Mosaic recently and noticed that some of my earlier followers are no longer really engaging Twitter.  I wonder why, but remember that lots of people start things and don’t stick with them.  However, the real revelation is how many of these folks I’ve met with and have helped or been helped by.  Lots of these early connections are still engaging and being engaged.  

Converstaion generates conversation.  I’ve noticed that coming in and promoting a post I dugg up somewhere is ok, but to actually check in on people, joke around and share is where the real power of this venue lies.

New Twitter Wishlist?

I wish that Twitter would help those of us out, who really want a more pure interaction.  It’d be great if the e-mail sent notifying us of new followers had their bio’s in the e-mail, along with last post and the follower, following ratio.  Not that it’s a parameter I would alienate anyone over, but it’d be nice to know when the person join.  

I’ve never been involved just to gain followers, so I have no issue with unfollowing and blocking folks.  I’ve recently decided, after hearing others who are doing it, to unfollow those who send me an auto DM. Of course I have some other parameters, but this is my newest one.

I’ve also added a line to my Twitter bio, letting followers know that I will unfollow after auto-DMs.

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is

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  1. Clint Miller

    February 20, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I cant stand auto-DMs. I unfollowed someone just this week for sending me an auto DM asking me to download their “free gift” for following them. The gift??? A lead generation toolkit!! That is irony right there. 😉

  2. Paula

    February 20, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Right before you published this, I was reading you can block auto DM’s through Social Too. I read it in Twitter – seems many folks don’t like the auto DM.

  3. Matt Stigliano

    February 20, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Matthew – I had an auto-DM recently telling me to introduce myself – I had been speaking to this person directly just that afternoon on Twitter. It didn’t make sense at all. I don’t always remember to give people “thanks for the follow” messages and sometimes I don’t because I want to see if they’re worth following for awhile or not, but when I do, they are typed in letter by letter.

    Clint – That is pretty ironic. You should have taken him up on the offer. A little comparison sales for you to give you something to show why you’re better than the others.

  4. Vance Shutes

    February 20, 2009 at 6:42 pm


    I’m with you, all the way. Those auto-DM systems are a major turn-off, though I haven’t (yet) unfollowed someone because of them. It really all comes down to the value and significance of their tweetstream. It’s fun to DM back to a new followed person with a snide comment to shut off their auto-DM. THAT has brought some interesting replies, to be sure!

  5. Michelle DeRepentigny

    February 20, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    I got an auto DM asking me to introduce myself also from someone I was following because I was intrigued by a blog post he had put up. Well he wasn’t following me and so I could not DM him back, even though he intruded on what I consider my personal space – my cell phone 🙂

    I was annoyed enough that I un-followed him.

  6. Will

    February 20, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    At the same time, the auto DM can be an effective tool if used correctly. Have you followed @nik_nik of That’s an auto-DM I don’t mind receiving (no spoiler alerts here).

  7. Missy Caulk

    February 21, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Twitter has changed. Or maybe I followed too many people. But, not sure what to do except unfollow.

    Oh well, I’m sure someone will come up with a plan like you described.

    Actually that is how I track who is following me, I look at the latest DM and then decide if I want to follow back.

    Also set up a rule in Mail to keep the requests from interupting my day.

  8. Carolyn G-Tu

    February 22, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I agree – auto dm is auto-dumb in my opinion.

    I wonder if as people who have used twitter for a longer time have less patience with new users – I have a hard time with the concept of following hundreds of people – just now hit 100 that I’m following although there are close to 600 following me. I know I’m missing out on interacting with some really interesting people – I’m trying to branch out a bit more.

  9. Linda Davis

    February 22, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    I miss the good old days of Twitter. Some days I don’t even recognize the people on my screen. My own fault for following too many but the Italian Catholic in me made me follow back when asked. Otherwise I’d feel guilty. I did get to meet you through Twitter and for that I’m grateful.

  10. Linsey

    March 15, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I’m one of those that has become less active on Twitter. Too much noise. I’ve followed too many and frankly, it’s lost some of the appeal because of that. I know I could do a bit better with Tweetdeck. It’s on the To Do list.

    As for auto DM’s – I just don’t see the point and it’s usually an immediate turn off for me.

  11. Rocky VanBrimmer

    June 23, 2009 at 7:18 am

    The Auto DM’s are getting lame. I was just remembering the other day how we use to pick on @Gotbob!

    Good point as always Matt.

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Social Media

Facebook pays $52M to content mods with PTSD, proving major flaw in their business

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook will pay out up to millions to former content moderators suffering PTSD to settle the 2018 class action lawsuit.



content moderators

Facebook’s traumatized former content moderators are finally receiving their settlement for the psychological damage caused by having to view extremely disturbing content to keep it off of Facebook.

The settlement is costing the company $52 million, distributed as a one time payment of $1,000 to each of the 10,000+ content moderators in four states. If any of these workers seek psychological help and are diagnosed with psychological conditions related to their jobs, Facebook also has to pay for that medical treatment. They pay up to $50,000 per moderator in additional damages (on a case-by-case basis).

Facebook also will offer psychological counseling going forward, and will attempt to create a type of screening for future candidates to determine a candidate’s emotional resiliency, and will make one-on-one mental health counseling available to content moderators going forward. They will also give moderators the ability to stop seeing specific types of reported content.

According to NPR, Steve Williams, a lawyer for the content moderators, said, “We are so pleased that Facebook worked with us to create an unprecedented program to help people performing work that was unimaginable even a few years ago. The harm that can be suffered from this work is real and severe.”

Honestly, this job is not for the faint of heart, to say the least. Like the hard-working, yet not unfazeable police officers on Law & Order SVU, seeing the worst of humanity takes a toll on one’s psyche. Facebook’s content moderators are only human, after all. These workers moderated every conceivable–and inconceivable–type of disturbing content people posted on the 2 billion-users-strong social media platform for a living. Some for $28,800 a year.

I wouldn’t last five minutes in this role. It is painful to even read about what these content moderators witnessed for eight hours a day, five days a week. While Facebook refuses to admit any wrongdoing, as part of the agreement, come on, man. Graphic and disturbing content that upset someone enough to report to Facebook is what these people viewed all day every day. It sounds almost like a blueprint for creating trauma.

This settlement surely sets the precedent for more class action lawsuits to come from traumatized content moderators on other social media platforms. The settlement also shows this business model for what it is: flawed. This isn’t sustainable. It’s disgusting to think there are people out there posting heinous acts, and I am grateful the platform removes them.

However, they have to come up with a better way. Facebook employs thousands upon thousands of really smart people who are brilliant at computer technology. Twitter and YouTube and similar platforms do, too. They need to come up with a better plan going forward, instead of traumatizing these unfortunate souls. I don’t know what that will look like. But with Facebook’s sky-high piles of money and access to so many brilliant minds, they can figure it out. Something’s got to give. Please figure it out.

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Social Media

Twitter will give users a warning before a harmful tweet is sent

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter is rolling out a new warning giving users a chance to edit their tweet before they post “harmful” language, and we aren’t sure how to feel about it.



twitter warning

Twitter is testing out a new warning system for potentially offensive tweets. If a tweet contains language Twitter deems “harmful,” Twitter will pop up with a warning and opportunity to revise the potentially offensive tweet before posting. The warning mentions that language in the tweet is similar to previously reported tweets.

If internal alarms are going off in your head, congratulations, you are wary of any censorship! However, if you read a tweet spewing with bile, racism, or threatening violence against a person or institution, do you report it? Do you want Twitter to take it down? If you said yes, then congratulations, you want to protect the vulnerable and fight hatred.

If you are wary of censorship, yet want to fight hatred and protect the vulnerable, welcome to the interwebs! It’s a crazy and precarious place where almost anything can happen. Despite decades of use, we’re still navigating our way through the gauntlet of tough decisions the proliferation of platforms and ease of use have given us.

First, how does Twitter gauge a potentially harmful tweet? According to Twitter, the app responds to language similar to prior tweets that people have reported. Twitter, like Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms, already has hateful conduct rules in place. In fact, Twitter has a host of rules and policies intended to protect users from fraud, graphic violence, or explicitly sexual images.

Their rationale is detailed, but explains, “Our role is to serve the public conversation, which requires representation of a diverse range of perspectives.” However, they “recognise that if people experience abuse on Twitter, it can jeopardize their ability to express themselves.”

We’ve heard stories of teenagers–or even younger children–killing themselves after relentless bullying online. The feeling of anonymity when insulting a living, breathing being from behind a computer screen often causes a nasty pile-on effect. We’ve seen people use social media to bully, sexually harass, and threaten others.

Twitter cites research showing women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and other vulnerable populations are more likely to stop expressing themselves freely when someone abuses them on social media. Even Kelly Marie Tran, who played Resistance fighter Rose Tico in Star Wars, took down her Instagram photos before taking a stand against haters. And she had Jedis in her corner. Imagine your average person’s response to such cruel tactics?

We’ve seen hate groups and terrorist organizations use social media to recruit supporters and plan evil acts. We see false information springing up like weeds. Sometimes this information can be dangerous, especially when Joe Blow is out there sharing unresearched and inaccurate medical advice. Go to sleep, Blow, you’re drunk.

As an English major, and an open-minded person, I have a problem with censorship. Banned books are some of my favorites of all time. However, Twitter is a privately owned platform. Twitter has no obligation to amplify messages of hate. They feel, and I personally agree, that they have some responsibility to keep hateful words inciting violence off of their platform. This is a warning, not a ban, and one they’re only rolling out to iOS users for now.

I mean, in the history of angry rants, when was the last time a “Hey, calm down, you shouldn’t say that” ever made the person less angry or less ranty? Almost never. In which case, the person will make their post anyway, leaving it up to masses to report it. At that time, Twitter can make the decision to suspend the account and tell the user to delete it, add a warning, or otherwise take action.

Every once in a while, though, someone may appreciate the note. If you’ve ever had a colleague read an email for “tone” in a thorny work situation, you know heeding a yellow flag is often the wisest decision. This warning notice gives users a chance to edit themselves. As a writer, I always appreciate a chance to edit myself. If they flag every damn curse word, though, that will get real annoying real fast. You’re not my mom, Twitter. You’re not the boss of me.

This isn’t your great granddaddies’ book burning. This is 2020. The internet giveth; the internet taketh away. It’s a crying shame that evil creeps in when we’re not looking. Speech has consequences. Users can’t edit tweets, so once it’s out there, it’s out there. Even if they delete a tweet within moments of posting, anyone can screenshot that baby and share it with the world. Part of me says, “Good, let the haters out themselves.”

Twitter has shown itself to be open to differences in opinion, encouraging freedom of expression, and has opened up a whole new line of communication for traditionally underrepresented populations. They are a private company, and their rules and policies are posted. What, you didn’t read the terms of use? Gasp!

It’s Twitter’s rodeo, after all. This warning gives users a quick, added heads up to posting something that will likely be reported/removed anyway. For better or worse, Twitter’s still leaving it up to users to post what they want and deal with the potential fallout. Hey, I have a great idea! How about we all be respectful of each other on the internet, and Twitter won’t have to come up with this kind of thing.

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Social Media

Yelp adds virtual services classification to help during COVID

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Yelp constantly adds new classifications for how to find a business to meet your needs, now because of COVID they have added virtual services.



Yelp virtual services

Yelp is making efforts to accommodate businesses whose operations are adapting in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Several new features will help businesses display updated services.

The company has added an information category titled virtual service offerings. Business can display service option such as classes, virtual consultations, performances, and tours. Yelpers can search for businesses based upon those offerings.

Yelp has already noticed trends where users are incorporating virtual services into their business profiles. In an report by TechCrunch, Yelp’s head of consumer product Akhil Kuduvalli said “With these new product updates, businesses of all types that are adapting and changing the way they operate will be able to better connect with their customers and potentially find new ones.”

Virtual services in categories like fitness, gyms, home services, real estate, and health are already increasing in popularity. Yelp intends to showcase businesses that are providing those services by creating new Collections.

Once business owners update their virtual service offerings on their Yelp for Business profiles, we will surface those updates to consumers through new call-to-action buttons, by updating the home screen and search results with links to groups of businesses offering these new virtual services, as well as surfacing them in other formats like Collections,” said Kudvalli.

Also in the works is a curbside pickup category for restaurants. Additionally, Yelp introduced a free customized banner for businesses to post updates on their profiles. About 224,000 businesses have used the banner so far.

Yelp hasn’t stopped there. It’s made its Connect feature (which allows businesses to share important updates to all Yelpers on their profile and their email subscribers) free to eligible local businesses as part of the Yelp’s commitment to waive $25 million in fees to support businesses in need during the COVID-19 crisis.

During COVID-19 businesses and consumers need all the help they can get, and thankfully Yelp is there to – help.

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