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Twitter – Verified Spam for MSF_USA Doctors Without Borders


Twitter verified MSF_USA – Doctors without Borders account. However they immediately used it to ‘broadcast’ spam messages. Good cause aside, spam is spam!  Social networks, because they are about people coming together around a Purpose and a Value system, are targets for everyone with a story to peddle.

When Twitter verifies accounts, they are doing so on the basis of “offline” reputation, not online. You can read more about the importance of offering verified accounts in social networks here. But what happens when the Not For Profit with offline credibility misuses that reputation to spam “in a good cause” online? Loss of reputation for all concerned – certainly credibility for the Not for Profit. But also for Twitter. Perhaps Twitter should point new verified accounts to my post on New On Twitter, Tips and Hints? 😛 Or anyone else tips blog post for that matter.

Do you consider this to be spam?

  1. @LES_ TY for watching a #STRVD for Attention film, 1 of 195 million stories of malnutrition: http://bit.ly/195mill RT and rewrite the story! about 4 hours ago via web
  2. @tom_zed TY for watching a #STRVD for Attention film, 1 of 195 million stories of malnutrition: http://bit.ly/195mill RT about 4 hours ago via web
  3. @LATIMESRAINEY Watch a #STRVD for Attention film, 1 of 195 million stories of malnutrition: http://bit.ly/195mill RT and rewrite the story! about 4 hours ago via web
  4. @LIFE_IS_EARTH Watch a #STRVD for Attention film, 1 of 195 million stories of malnutrition: http://bit.ly/195mill RT and rewrite the story! about 4 hours ago via web
  5. @GEOFFONTOUR Watch a #STRVD for Attention film, 1 of 195 million stories of malnutrition: http://bit.ly/195mill RT and rewrite the story about 4 hours ago via web
  6. @KSPHOTOHOUND Watch a #STRVD for Attention film, 1 of 195 million stories of malnutrition: http://bit.ly/195mill RT and rewrite the story about 4 hours ago via web
  7. @JULIE_POSETTI Watch a #STRVD for Attention film, 1 of 195 million stories of malnutrition: http://bit.ly/195mill RT and rewrite the story about 4 hours ago via web
  8. @DAVEIDAHO Watch a #STRVD for Attention film, 1 of 195 million stories of malnutrition: http://bit.ly/195mill RT and rewrite the story about 4 hours ago via web
  9. @PHOTOGRAPHY360 Watch a #STRVD for Attention film, 1 of 195 million stories of malnutrition: http://bit.ly/195mill RT and rewrite the story about 4 hours ago via web

Hmm  – the response? Twitter not happy. Glebe2037 was at least polite:

WARNING: Politically incorrect statement ahead.

I have a BIG issue with not for profits that wander into Twitter, take the higher moral ground and then treat people like rubbish, all in a “good cause”. We’re ALL here to make the world/community a better place, start living with the rest of us!

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

22 thoughts on “Twitter – Verified Spam for MSF_USA Doctors Without Borders

  1. Pingback: Old Mac Donald
  2. Twitter – Verified Spam for MSF_USA Doctors Without Borders: Twitter verified MSF_USA – Doctors without Borders ac… http://bit.ly/bfQcMn

  3. To be honest I think many not-for-profit organisations adopt this “We’re a good cause – the ends justify any means” even in offline activities. It’s not the way to build a relationship, it’s a way maybe to get a one off donation and earn the resentment of many people who in other circumstances might have been happy to help over a longer period. I don’t know if many of these organisations realise how badly hiring backpackers and students is damaging their brands.

  4. If I was following that account, I’d be hoping to get links to their current news and campaigns or media mentions, like Amnesty seems to get right

    http://twitter.com/AMNESTY

    Though, they’re not verified!

    1. I agree with both of you. and I’m always a bit questioning of verification – if you are truly a member of the community, people know you, and you don’t need to “prove” who you are. Veriifciation is a short cut to trust, but only at the beginning. What you do with a verified account from then on leads to success or failure in social networks.
      Well, I reckon anyway. 😛

  5. Yes, it’s spammy for sure, no doubt about it. I hope they see the error of their ways soon and rectify the situation, as Médecins Sans Frontières (or Doctors Without Borders) do some excellent work around the world. Let’s not lose sight of that eh? It’s a shame to see them acting inappropriately here.

    It’s easy to heavily criticise though. Has anyone contacted them directly to help them by letting them know they’d do well to change their approach? People seem to all to willing to do this when it comes to companies or celebs with verified accounts who act inappropriately.

  6. It doesn’t matter if it’s for profit or not, these messages in a block are just an instant turnoff. By now almost everyone has realised that you can only add this stuff if you are already trusted. We all expect a little “behind the scenes” or personalisation to sweeten a diet of even well meaning spam.

  7. Loathe to defend such a spammy account, I do think we should avoid confusing verification with any sense of social media responsibility.

    Verifying an account is merely a confirmation that the person or organisation is who they claim they are. It doesn’t mean a stamp of approval or imply people should follow them. It merely avoids scam artists and parody accounts from being confused with the real thing or trashing a brand. I am sure a verified account is just as likely to fall afoul of Twitter’s guidelines as any other account if enough complaints are received.

    However, in this case, verification just means that the charity has managed to trash itself while waving at everyone that, yes, it really is them – and proves that businesses, charities or any kind of brand should actually educate themselves about what they are doing before diving in.

  8. The messages you’ve shown here from our Twitter account are part of our outreach for our “Starved for Attention” campaign on the crisis of childhood malnutrition, a condition that affects the lives and futures of 195 million children around the world. It’s a condition that is curable now, but needs the awareness and political will to make a change. It is a scourge Doctors Without Borders medical teams are responding to in more than 30 countries and cannot be addressed appropriately without the mobilization of governments and people around the world.

    We are hoping to take advantage of all that the Twitter community has to offer in mobilizing the necessary resources to conquer childhood malnutrition. We are using Twitter as a tool to reach out to individuals we thought would be interested in the campaign based on their other conversations on Twitter; this includes mothers, chefs, nutritionists, global citizens, people interested in food aid legislation, etc. Many have responded to our outreach by tweeting about the campaign, appreciating the opportunity to have a great impact on this issue.

    Our method has been to send out about 20 messages in the morning or late afternoon, followed by tweets to our whole feed with news from the field, advocacy, media mentions, and conversations with our followers. We welcome suggestions from the community here on how to adjust this strategy. Throughout our efforts, we have continued to ask ourselves whether social media can be a tool for social change on such a devastating crisis. It is a question we hope will be answered by the actions of millions in the Twitter community.

    Jason Cone
    Communications Director
    Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

    1. Suggest you read Beth Kanters book The Networked NonProfit

      Your approach to human communication and engagement (both on Twitter and your response here) is simply alienating the very people you are trying to connect to. By the way, one of the people you spammed is a brilliant journalist – did you even know that?

      Here’s the Huffington Post article on Beth’s book
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/09/the-networked-nonprofit-b_n_604686.html

    2. Jason,

      No one is questioning your cause or its validity.

      What people have is a concern with how you have approached your delivery. If the above approach was undertaken by another organisation or Supplier of some of those wonder Pills then we would all agree that it is Spam and would block those accounts.

      As Laurel has suggested maybe it is worthwhile taking a step back and listen and learn from what other people have done and the feedback that has been provided. A good example of a charity that uses Twitter is @mcgrathfdn a Breast Cancer charity in Australia.

      I hope that you take this and the other feedback in the way it has been intended from all parties.

      Regards

      Jason Woods.

    3. You really don’t need to post the same message over and over again to get your message out. If what you’re posting is worth retweeting, people will do so!

      And if one of your followers is following ten of the ones you are sending the same message to, his feed will have ten of those messages. And that gets quite annoying pretty fast.

  9. Amerikanske Leger Uten Grenser beskyldes for å spamme på twitter. Svarer kritikk i kommentarfeltet http://bit.ly/djbjjx (via @AndreasL)

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