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Is Twitter Selling Links and What in the World is a ‘Promotion’

Posted By Darren Rowse 9th of October 2008 Social Media 0 Comments

Yesterday I logged onto Twitter and find a little addition to their sidebar. It says ‘Get some Perspective’ and contains a link ‘Watch Hack the Debate‘.

Here’s how it looks.


So I have two reactions to this.

1. How much more politics does Twitter need?

I’m sick of the ‘election bar’ that continues to appear when I visit Twitter. I’ve closed it many times but it continues to appear. I thought perhaps it was just me or at least just a frustration that other Non US Twitter users had seeing that Election promotion – but when I tweeted about it I only had 2-3 out of 50-60 responses that were positive about the election bar (including US Twitter users).

WIth the election bar and now a sidebar link Twitter seems to be moving away from their ‘what are you doing’ type focus. Sure a lot of the world is ‘doing’ elections but a large number of the world is also sick of them.

I do think that the US election is important but I’d love to see them give us the choice to opt out of this type of ‘promotion’ or at least to know if it’s an ad or not. But maybe that’s just me?

2. Is this a partnership, paid link… or?

My first reaction when seeing the link was that it looked a lot like an advertisement. There’s no marking of it as such but it does seem a little odd to just have an unexplained link to a political site just sitting there on the sidebar of a social media site under one’s stats.

When you look at the ‘source code’ of a twitter page you see that the link is tagged as a ‘promotion’ (click to enlarge the source code):


Interesting…. but what is a promotion?

On the site it links to ( it says that Current and Twitter have ‘teamed up’ – so it looks like some kind of ‘partnership’ but that doesn’t really explain it fully.

Now I’ve got nothing against Twitter monetizing with advertising, but I’d love for them to disclose whether that is actually an ad or not. If it is – they might want to ‘nofollow’ it or they might just find themselves penalized by Google for trying to game them (or for helping someone else game them at least).

What do you think?

Update – Evan Williams from Twitter has kindly commented below clarifying the situation. You can read his comments here. The most important clarification (in my mind) is that the link is not a paid link at all but a voluntary link. Thanks Evan!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Even if that link is paid or involving some type of cross-promotion that’s earning somebody money, why should they have to nofollow it? What if they believe the site it points to is useful? Surely they can link if they want. Google can discount the link if they choose to.

    Are you suggesting that businesses cannot provide proper links to other businesses with whom they have financial dealings if they feel their customers would benefit just in case Google don’t like it? Surely these recommendations are the very definition of a good link?!

    As for having the election bar, I’m a US expat in Europe and I can’t say it’s bothered me at all. I had a brief look just to see what people were saying and haven’t been back in. It’s really just a bit at the top of the page and is far less obtrusive than your average Adsense or banner advertising so, whatever.

  • Evan – thanks for the clarifications – it was good to hear that!

  • Darren, I think you would also like to read Patrick’s post at re: your statement about them needing to add rel=”nofollow”.

    Personally, I have to say… I’m not sure why that Election Bar is such an annoyance to people; although that’s only my own perspective, obviously each to their own.

  • Just for a change why not look at promoting Blog Action Day, twitter! it’s on the 15th of October

    Now that’s a worthy cause.

  • I just ignore the election stuff on Twitter

  • Hi, Darren!

    Well, I’m using Twitter from Spain. I have lately a new kind of followers who are in fact spammers. I think this is the natural evolution of spam. You Know, new ways of communication-new ways of spamming. Now, I got a question: Is twitter selling traffic ? I mean, you talked about election but what do you think about twitter spammers?. One of this “followers” is a spanish website about leisure time.

  • I was one of those respondents to Darren’s tweet. I am a U.S. political junkie, but I don’t understand why that bar is on Twitter, which is international.

    As for those who “complain” that there are a lot of politics in Twitter lately, my question is:

    aren’t you following those people voluntarily? I have clicked on “follow” several times and then deleted those people because their tweets didn’t interest me or angered me.

    I thoroughly enjoy the variety on Twitter; and just like anything else, I “scroll through” the tweets that don’t interest me, and click on links that interest me. I follow several international Twitters and have several international followers.

    Not only do I learn a lot and often get some laughs; but I’ve gotten 2 jobs in three days just this week; because people have clicked on my Tweet and seen what I do.

    Just MHO.

  • I think twitter have every right to sell paid links (so long as they are nofollow). Someone has to pay for the hosting, maintanance, updates, etc.