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Fame: the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Twitter tool

With everyone looking for ways to grow their Twitter following, many will have fun playing the new Fame game without understanding that it is temporary and not at all intuitive to get out of.

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Fame: a viral Twitter game invoking the name of Lady Gaga

Fame is designed by New Yorker Adam Ludwin as a side project to give random users a gigantic follower count once a day. Users to to the Fame site, give it permission to access their Twitter account which enters them into a raffle with everyone else who connect, and daily, a random winner is chosen. The winner is automatically followed for the day by everyone who has entered the raffle.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Ludwin has actually spoken with Twitter about the project and had their blessing, especially given that Twitter’s API allows developers to add or remove followers from a user’s account, making the temporary mass following possible.

The tool/game/service is free and the company says they have no plans to monetize the site and through the API, they simply follow and unfollow the daily winner on your behalf, and as the site grows in number, they seek to be as big as or bigger than Lady Gaga, giving each daily winner a taste of the glory, as daily winners have a Fame logo on their avatar for the day to set them apart from others.

The game is just like a good ol’ fashioned raffle where you get one entry, but in the case of Fame, you earn more entries by inviting friends to join Fame. Anyone can unfollow the current winner if they dislike them, or manually follow them after their 24 hours are up if the winner is interesting.

The good news

It is hard to criticize a free, fun game that is simply built as someone’s side project, so we’ll start off by noting that this looks fun. Honestly. Imagine potentially having millions of followers for a day – what would you say? My personal Twitter stream would either terrify or bore the average American as I tweet mostly about very specific economic indicators, Ben Bernanke speeches, kittens and unicorns.

Wouldn’t that be fun? And if someone liked my tweets and remembered to go back and follow me the next day after my temporary fame was stripped away, the ecosystem is stroked and new connections are made. Sounds like a win, no?

Why it is terrible, horrible, no good and very bad

First and foremost, unorganic connections no matter how temporary are bogus. In the early days of Twitter, before they knew what they were doing, a simple script would allow users to follow thousands of others based on simple parameters such as words in their profile like “follow back,” thus gaming the system. While Fame is not gaming the system in a permanent way, this really feels like a wet T-shirt contest… a girl gets on stage with a bunch of other girls, bounces around, then the next morning, no one remembers who she is or that she even had a name.

Secondly, any service of any kind that incentivizes people to flood my already overflowing direct message box on Twitter with invitations to join them, it makes me think of FarmVille and I want to hulk out. This part is not Fame’s fault, they’re just trying to spread the word, but trust me, it’s going to get very, very old, very quickly – I predict people will be annoyed before the system hits half a million people.

Thirdly, their FAQ is very clear in that “if the winner is a spammer or bot, we draw again. Only real humans can win FAME!” But what happens when the winner becomes a spammer as soon as they win? Check out the most recent winner below and tell me if you see spam:

While the person above is a radio DJ and is expected to be somewhat spammy, imagine giving the mic to most teenagers on Twitter (like this kid, found with only 5 seconds of searching for an example on Twitter). Fame says, “If you Tweet anything harmful or abusive we will revoke your win. Examples of harmful or abusive Tweets include links to malicious software, pornography, or hate sites. If you abuse or troll FAME players in any way, we will ban you from playing. We have sole discretion to determine what is harmful or abusive.” This should prove to be a challenge – have you ever given a drunk the mic at a bar? It’s never, ever, ever pretty – nor is an excited college kid with a loud Twitter mic.

Fourth, most people that sign up will not read the permissions, understand the game, or know that to stop playing, they have to contact the company by email. The system is beautifully designed to rope in the cattle, gate them and know that they won’t intuitively understand how to get out. Brilliant, yet kind of inadvertently evil genius (which is actually a compliment, not a real criticism).

Lastly, a daily winner is unlikely to stand out in anyone’s stream that is following more than 20 people. I often hear, “you didn’t see me tweet about my baby taking her first steps?” with that hurt puppy look in their eyes, to which I always say “I follow thousands of people and only log on intermittently throughout the day, I can’t possibly read everything everyone says, it’s not personal.” It sounds mean, but it’s true and I’m in the majority.

It’s all good fun

All of the criticism aside, it looks like a fun game, but for our readers that are professionals, business owners, entrepreneurs and c-suite level, skip the Fame and build your own, lest you join the ranks of the teen Twitterati. Ludwin’s concept is fun and we know that it will explode in the coming weeks, but for professionals looking to grow their Twitter following, this isn’t on the list of things to do.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Tinu

    March 28, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Like you, I get how the game could be fun. But this just makes me think: dear. Lord. NO. Well at least people now have a review discussing the ins and outs of the game. Of course they forgot to tell everyone that being Internet Famous is Exactly like not being famous at all, only with all the annoying disadvantages that come with it…

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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.

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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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