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Is it creepy when brands pester you on social media? (shkspr.mobi)
114 points by edent 67 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments

EVERY communication from a company that isn’t “thank you for your business” or “invoice attached” is creepy. We need to return to a strict relationship. And I want to have more control: I want key exchange, where once I’ve paid I can revoke your ability to reach me so I never hear from you again unless I want to reach you again.

Company communications out of the blue come off as having an extremely exaggerated sense of self-importance. I have a hard enough time keeping up with friends and other desirable contacts on a regular basis, yet your stupid company thinks I want to see your weekly E-mail spams or “notifications” (read: ads) every day on my phone? (And we all know they’d send you “notifications” every 5 minutes if the damn platform didn’t step in to prevent it.)

As many have pointed out before, this is straightforward with email. My communication with Amazon goes to amazon.com@accounts.mydomain.com, and I can stop listening on that socket whenever I like.

This is much harder on social media because (1) you don't control the platform and (2) there's often an emphasis on linking in-platform identities to who we are in the real world. The strategy of social media is to get you into a relationship where they hold all the power.

Thank you! I am glad to know that I am not the only one who feels like that. Maybe I am not a weird and ungrateful person just because it seriously creeps me out when companies like Revolut wish me happy birthday?

Ideally, this would be the case, but information such as product recalls and safety information would be impossible.

If you sent me a product you can send me a letter.

I'm perfectly okay with beer brands telling me when they're going to be open with a new limited time product.

Still a bit creepy, but I enjoy Wendy's trolling:



Edit: If they do ever bag on you, though...ask how they make the chili.

Any questionable patty from the grill goes in a unrefrigerated pan, all day long. Then, they mix in the beans/sauce and freeze it for 30 plus days. It's a notable exception to their militant "never frozen", "fresh", schtick. Odd, since the burgers are actually done well, and are fresh.

It's not questionable patties, it's ones which did not get used in time for a burger. Cooked a little too long, that probably makes them better for chili, not worse. And they are put in a warming drawer, which is a lot different than an 'unrefrigerated pan'. Also, they freeze the meat for up to 7 days, not 30+.

Honestly, that sounds perfectly fine. The best ground beef has been thoroughly browned, that's probably why people think their chili tastes so good.

They safely recycle unused burgers into a different product and you're somehow trying to twist this into a bad thing.

If it was unhealthy, people would be getting sick from eating Wendy's chilli all the time, but obviously they are not.

We should be encouraging more companies to reduce their waste, but you're on a weird hate crusade instead.

It's not a weird crusade. I saw it firsthand.

It is, likely, different across franchises.

Perhaps you meant to reply to the same comment I did, and not mine.

Oh, yes I did. Sorry! :/

I don't know why this would gross anyone out. It's an excellent use of meat that would otherwise be thrown out. And their chili is pretty decent on a cold day.

Because "questionable" for some franchises includes green patties or ones that fell on the floor.

I'm not guessing or citing third parties. I'll admit that how it's done probably varies by franchise.

You're probably right, it varies by franchise. I can only speak to the processes of the ones near me. My little brother used to work there and my dad is a big fan of the chili so this topic has come up.

This at least is just them being on social media. The article is about brands soliciting folks online in a clearly automated way with basically no personality.

These are funny.

It is a fine line between being charming and creepy. The person who made the tweets in the article isn't even trying.

Not sure if this is subtle Wendy's marketing

It is. Corporate social media accounts are for advertising.

  ask how they make the chili
At least the fingers are generally fresh:


At Chic Fil A, they scrape off the breading from unused filets and chop it into chicken salad. When I worked there back in high school, no employee dared to eat that chicken salad.

When you choose to call out a person/company (good or bad) in an electronic public square, I think it's fair for other people/companies to jump into the conversation if they so choose.

> When you choose to call out a person/company (good or bad) in an electronic public square, I think it's fair for other people/companies to jump into the conversation if they so choose.

It's also tacky and annoying. None of the intended participants in the conversation want that, and that kind of behavior is either going push the conversation onto private channels or motivate blocking.

A lot of people value an audience of "real people like me, minus the corporate hustlers and corporate ad-bots." It's unfortunate that are current society lets the latter swoop in an choke to death all kinds of good things.

What you are describing is a use case for a product that is not yet available. Opportunity there.

The problem is, the only way this product could exist would be if people paid for it. I can't see that happening. People expect almost everything online to be free now, but most don't understand what they're actually paying is their privacy.

You could still support such a product with ads. The only difference from Twitter is that corporate/marketing accounts would be forbidden from contacting users unsolicited.

I've tried to get two competing companies to reply in the same thread multiple times. Pretty funny when it does happen and usually problems get solved very quickly. Most recently I had an issue with Tmobile and simply tagging Verizon two really got the ball rolling with Tmobile support.

So if you were having a discussion about someone in Starbucks you'd be happy for me to change table and jump into the conversation?

No, that would probably irritate people, which is why people are gnashing their teeth at the thought of Whatsapp having ads. Having companies invade private conversations isn't just creepy, it's infuriating.

Your analogy doesn't fit to twitter though because this guy isn't having a private conversation; he's broadcasting his opinions publicly to the world. Imagine someone with a megaphone in an outdoor mall shouting about how shitty a company is. People would probably love the idea of a rival from another company engaging with that guy and saying "yeah, they suck, that's why I started this company, check us out." I doubt many people would find it creepy.

What if you were having that conversation so loudly that people inside and outside the Starbucks could hear you and when you mentioned a brand's name, they were immediately notified and your conversation was permanently associated with their brand? I mean you literally see this phenomenon in public where people converse too loudly in public and strangers then do end up overhearing and feeling, rightly or not, that they can jump in because a conversation that loud is simply too inviting.

In real life, the is only maybe 20-30 people in Starbucks at most. Online is not the public square.

Further: what about if I'd paid tens of thousands of dollars for a magic hearing aid that could pick out conversations in said Starbucks in which I have a potential business opportunity?

Or every Starbucks across the globe, all at once.

Twitter is public. There is the expectation (and intent) that anything you tweet can be replied to by someone else. In a coffee shop, there is no such expectation or intent.

Twitter is more akin to a soapbox than a pub.

I honestly don't understand complaints like this. When you post something on the internet (on a service that has a documented, public API!) anyone can see it, by definition. Twitter isn't your local pub - it's a public forum visited by millions of people daily. If you don't want those people reading and reacting to the things you write, don't write them on Twitter!

And yeah, brands aren't people. But guess what? Brands are made out of people, and those people have just as much a right to be on Twitter as you do!

There are lots of forms of electronic communication that are non-public. If you don't want people reading what you say, use those.


Isn't this actually a damning indictment of how normal humans expect social networks to work, versus how they actually do?

You don't expect big corporations to have spies listening to every conversation in a random party in your local park, but you don't mind other people joining in, it's kinda the point.

People think of social media as a big party of real people, not as a massive corporate espionage listening to every conversation for certain trigger words so they can slimely sidle up, butt into the conversation and try and sell you something.

If your feed is public, then it’s less like a party than standing at speaker’s corner in Hyde Park with a megaphone. And yeah, some of the folks in the crowd are corporate shills yelling ads back at you.

You're missing the point, that's not how 99% of normal people think it works, consciously or subconsciously, it's regardless of how it actually does.

People expect Facebook and Twitter to be local, and forget, because that's how human society works, but not computers.

Whether it's a couple of friends joking about defacing Marilyn Monroe's grave (with no real intention) or someone moaning about their internet, they don't expect to be watched by tens of thousands of corporations and hundreds of governments.

Go to a public bulletin board at a university sidewalk and it’s all ads. Why would twitter not become the same?

I don't mind if they read the post. The annoying part is that they send spam.

I do not see this so much creepy as scary. Big companies have the resources to stalk everyone with an open opinion, and the technology is just getting cheaper.

I want to be able to comment on-line without having tens, hundreds or thousands of companies creating profiles of my personality.

People need to get back their position in politics, economics and the public space. If every conversation is exploited to sell more products, how can we as a society have honest open conversations in the public space?

Sadly, even in the private space (WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.) there is also data collection and commercialization of people private lives.

Yes, it is public. But, no, it is not acceptable to transform everything public in a product.

I feel like it's kinda expected on Twitter, but I was genuinely creeped out when it happened within 10 minutes of me posting a complaint about a company on Facebook. Ironically, my complaint about the company was that they were creepy.

I was complaining about a property management company who sent everyone in my neighborhood a letter warning us that renters would be moving in, and asking us to keep an eye on them and report back.

They showed up, really defensive, claiming that they didn't want us to spy on their renters, just report issues like if a fence had fallen over (pretty sure the renters can handle telling their landlord themselves). Then they said they were going to send a new letter to clarify.

After more of my friends replied and said their "explanation" didn't really change anything they deleted their promises, and never sent any follow up letters.

Good job company, you really convinced me you're not creepy.

I think people on Twitter with a public profile, of all people, know and understand how public their tweets are. It doesn't change the fact that these kinds of advertisements are annoying though and that they're within their rights to complain about it.

Is it fair game? Maybe. Does that mean I should just accept it? Hell no.

No it's not creepy when this happens on Twitter. It would be if it took place during private message exchange.

No, it’s not creepy. Don’t broadcast stuff on a service that’s meant to solicit replies from random people if you don’t want replies from random people. The constant social media outrage media is tiring and melodramatic.

It would be cool if Twitter had a moderated option, like how many blogs manage comments.

Competitors offering you free stuff in public might be the future though.

"Sky Media sucks? Move to Virgin Media and we'll give you 6 months free if you tweet that you did."

I could see that being a more effective strategy.

Tweets aren't a private conversation. If you call someone out publically, you can't then expect privacy.

I would only post something like this to social media if I wanted some sort of reaction. I'd expect Virgin Media to send a bot reply before some other company though. I think this form of customer service is far more frustrating than some other brand trying to capitalize on it. That's the only thing that seems surprising about this, where is VM in this chain??? Kudos to SkyUK for stepping in where there is a clear gap in customer service + therefore a market opportunity.

Yes it is creepy. However, broadcasting to the internet and not expecting a reaction is naive.

Yes, it's extremely creepy. The only information I want from a company is an order confirmation and invoice, follow-up information on a specific purchase, in case of product recalls, or direct replies to specific requests I have sent them.

Every other initiation of information from a company is invasive, creepy and unacceptable.

Don't consider a brand creepy for trying to engage with their customers and trying to get feedback to improve their product. It'd be more concerning if the brands completely ignored a complaint on public social media because it demonstrates that they don't really care about their own product.

Isn't the problem here Twitter? These posts were 'public' and BandsEye seems to be simply scraping via the Twitter API. Twitter enables this use case by denying users any control over how their content can be used. There will always be creepy/lame actors trying to exploit things, so if we want real change it might make sense to focus on how the platforms themselves might give users more control.

Perhaps users who wish to should see a list of 3rd party apps and be able to choose which programmatically granted access to their public timeline. Why is there no gradation between private to my select friends and public to the entire world and all of its annoying APIs?

Ask Twitter.

My favorite one recently was expensify telling me, a corporate customer with no control over the contract, about their superbowl ad. Their marketing team was obviously super stoked to be able to spend that much money. But I as a forced user, even if I like the product, don't care at all, actually I care in inverse porportion to the number of emails I get from your product, compounded by utility. This is worse than Amazon showing me battery ads after I already have batteries.

And more amusingly they now consider the rapper and "parks and rec" actor from the commercial to be part of their brand. Not sure what that even means but they are on the login screen now. Makes no sense

If an account is blocked they shouldn’t be able to see or interact with your Twitter feed.

Twitter allows for the mass importation of block lists.

Is there an active project to create a master list of corporate accounts to block?

Apparently somebody tried this to get rid of Alex Jones[0]

[0] https://www.adweek.com/digital/twitter-users-are-blocking-hu...

I think the creepy part here is that many people are using Twitter simply to express their in-the-moment state of mind. Okay, maybe you let one of these marketing tweets slide and don't think twice on it.

But what if you start getting 10 of these 'offers' per every tweet you send? That sounds like terrible user experience and something Twitter would need to address internally.

In marketing circles, this is an encouraged marketing technique to generate more sales/leads. I know a lot of hosting companies who employ similar tactics.

A brand cannot pester you on social media. An employee at a company who owns or represents the brand can.

What's creepy is when an employee acts like they have no autonomy or personality beyond the brand.

It would be more authentic if the person sending the Tweet from Sky could actually sign you up to the service. In reality they are probably just passing you straight into the normal systems and couldn't don't anything if you had issues.

All social media support from big companies tends to feel like that. Social media people who don't have access to accounts or no nothing about the product and are essentially a thin wrapper to forward your query on.

The T-Mobile social media support, as a counterexample, has full access to all account systems, never has to transfer you, and is way easier than the regular support.

Yes, and it is infinitely more enjoyable to pester government department social media accounts, who probably don't get much excitement day to day.

In particular, I'm quite fond of our Film & Lit Classification Office: https://twitter.com/NZOFLC/status/1096147661390995456

Lots of opinions here! Would love to know what people think about:

1: Size of company — does it matter if the company engaging with a random tweet is big or small? If it’s the founder/creator who is doing the outreach, versus some member of the marketing team?

2: Is it OK for a company’s twitter account to “like” a tweet that complains about a competitor or voiced a problem that the company’s products are aimed to solve?

An opinion of one, but I think it really depends more on whether your service really is an answer for a specific problem. If you complain about an ISP, chances are than any other ISP will have the same problems. However if you complain about something that you currently can’t do (e.g.: ask Twitter followers for a solution for X) then a comment from a company actually having a solution might be very welcome.

Oh yeah, that'd be a great use for BrandsEye (which though it facilitates this annoying behaviour, and seems to be a pretty trivial implementation, is a pretty good B2B idea) - startup with a fairly straightforward/keywordy problem X that it solves finds people complaining about X, and tells them that it can fix it.

Of course any technical startup could and would probably spend half a day - not $$$ - on a simple script to do what BrandsEye does, minus the UI that Sky only needs because it's putting it in the hands of marketing/social media dept.

> Size of company — does it matter if the company engaging with a random tweet is big or small?

I think it can go both ways - if it's a small company, I'm left wondering why are they spending (presumably) meagre resources watching Twitter so closely, but a large company clearly has money to spend (obviously this is a massive generalisation). But on the other hand, outreach from a small company feels more genuine, whereas from a larger company it just feels like they had a marketing team/money to throw at it.

> Is it OK for a company’s twitter account to “like”...

No - it's the same as negative ads-it leaves a poor taste in my mouth.

1. Shilling is shilling and I, as someone who doesn't care about your company or it's offerings, will recognize shilling as such no matter if you're one guy with an app or a trillion dollar company.

2. It will reflect poorly in my mind if you jump on any opportunity to shoehorn your company or product online. Cheap, cheesey and opportunistic are three words that come to mind when I think about that situation.

Creep? not to me. Obnoxious? Oh yes. My default reply is usually to stress test my vocabulary of profanities.

A bit - but it’s less creepy than just a regular instagram ad targeted at me for whatever reason. If I see an ad for something I googled, shopped for or commented - that’s 10x as creepy as being pinged by a bot or human in a conversation I initiated myself.

Louis CK (before his troubles!) did a great job at this.

He reached out a couple of times a year, put time into the email to make it entertaining, and only tried to pitch items that were of high quality.

Now compare that to the shit you get from Amazon, Ebay, and your phone company.

I thought it was hilarious they were paying Zuck to show me dishwasher soap and basketball ads when I didn't own a dishwasher and don't care about sports. Then I quit, because facebook is evil garbage which wastes my time.

I have to admit that this is one of the forms of advertising I like the most: Very on topic and something I might actually want. Provided, of course, they can actually provide a better service.

Seriously though, the guy is VERIFIED. Literally should tell you that everyone is going to want to be in your mentions, especially businesses. You're like an advertising magnet.

I think there has been exactly one time a brand has slid into a conversation that it wasn't creepy.

Said brand was "the two-person studio who made the game I tweeted a screenshot of".

To the company, it's just an extension of customer support for the most part. Usually if you avoid mentioning their keyword they will leave you alone.

No. I found almost all ads annoying and just want to block them. If they get to know me better, they have a chance of being less annoying.

That's because this isn't me and my mates at the pub. This is you yelling "Hear ye! Hear ye! Virgin Media's internet connection is down! And so is the status page!"



> Is it creepy when brands pester you on social media?

Used to be, but now I got used to it

Hey, a rare exception to Betteridge's law of headlines.

Nobody on the GDPR angle yet. It's illegal. They are building profiles without consent. Companies using that info are targeting you specifically obviously using both the profile and what often is your name. That's it. Illegal. Wonder what happens if you talk about being a diabetic or a homosexual. That would mean profiling sensitive data. Good luck with the massive fines on your illegally built profiles. That this is based on public information is not relevant. If you take pictures of people exiting a gay bar it's not OK to spread their profile for gay targeting.

I get your sentiment, but that is not how any of the GDPR or Twitter works. Apart from the obvious problems (e.g. applicability of the GDPR), see GDPR Art. 9, 2 (e). A Twitter feed is not the entrance of a gay bar.

Actually it does. The only lawful base for processing in this case is legitimate interest. The working paper (WP251) specifically states "it would be difficult for controllers to justify using legitimate interests as a lawful basis for intrusive profiling". Regarding the "manifestly made public" I was under the impression that a laymans twitter feed with 10 followers would not fall under "manifestly made public". As soon as the profiling starts inferring from data (say homosexuality) you definitively go off the rails.

I do have some professional exposure to GDPR and the way compliance lawyers treat GDPR, profiling etc. So if I'm really of the charts, please point it out, but these firms behaviour would be behaviour I would warn against internally. I wouldn't touch externally built profiles with a 10ft pole.


It would be creepy if they did that in a private conversation. In a public, easily searchable medium like Twitter, no.


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