Misleading Ad: Twitter is Hiring

    July 17, 2009

Did you know that Twitter was hiring? Apparently, you could be making $75/hr from the comfort of your own home! I saw the ad on the Drudge Report so it has to be legit, right? I mean a site that is the one of the largest news portals on the Internet wouldn’t advertise misleading, dare I say spammy items, to their loyal audience… would they?

Unfortunately, I recently saw the following ad atop the popular Drudge Report. The ad is without a doubt pulling at the heartstrings of a recession stricken America where hundreds of thousands are currently unemployed.

Fraudulent Twitter is Hiring ads

If you’ll notice the Drudge Report asks you to "Support The DrudgeReport; Visit Our Advertisers". Shouldn’t The Drudge Report hold itself up to a higher advertiser standard … especially since they ask you to click on it? Tell us what you think.

Support The DrudgeReport

Fraudulent Twitter is Hiring ads

Upon clicking the ad it takes you to newspaper-ish looking article, that has no mention of Twitter hiring mind you, but instead is a story about Mike Steadman, and what do you know… he’s from where I live! Mike claims, "I get paid about $25 for every link I post on Twitter and I get paid every week… I make around $10500 a month right now". Good going Mike!

Oh, and at the bottom of the page it even says "Twitter is in no way associated with this website."

Fake newspaper site

That’s some serious cabbage Mike, too bad it’s painfully fake and you’re probably a stock image from somewhere.

I viewed the source of the page and found out that the page is using a simple script to pull the Geo IP location to make it appear as if someone close to you is getting rich. Below you’ll see the same page as above but now Mike is from Washington, D.C. If you can’t trust Mike, whom can you trust these days?

Fake newspaper site

This fake online newspaper, or whatever it’s supposed to be, is nothing more than a funnel which is attempting to get your credit card information. The moneyback guarantee for "Easy Twitter Cash" made me chuckle, remember the ad that lead me here said that I could be making $75/hr now check this out…

"After six days we will charge you $84.79 for the first month, and a lower discounted rate of $49.87 every month from the signup date thereafter until you cancel. Additionally, you will be charged $6.82/month for a Health Tracker subscription."

Seeing these ads on The DrudgeReport got me thinking about a couple of things…

1.) Has Twitter been too relaxed with their trademark/brand?
2.) Can Twitter do anything at this point to better control use of their brand by outsiders?
3.) Shouldn’t publishers, e.g. The DrudgeReport, step in and ask that such a misleading ad like Twitter Hiring be removed from their sites advertising rotation?

1.) Has Twitter been to relaxed?

That’s easy, the answer is yes. Twitter has been extremely easy going with their trademark/brand. Almost every 3rd party app/service has either Twitter, a bird, or the word tweet in the title. For example Twitterrific, TweetDeck, CoTweet, Tweetmeme… etc.

Below is an official response from Twitter about their trademarking of the word "Tweet"…

"We have applied to trademark Tweet because it is clearly attached to Twitter from a brand perspective but we have no intention of "going after" the wonderful applications and services that use the word in their name when associated with Twitter. In fact, we encourage the use of the word Tweet. However, if we come across a confusing or damaging project, the recourse to act responsibly to protect both users and our brand is important."

Social Media commentator Andy Beal had the following to say about Twitter trademarking the term "tweet" …

"I’m not a trademark attorney–if you are, correct me if I am wrong–but if you register a trademark, aren’t you obliged to police it? I was under the impression that if you didn’t prevent others from using your trademark, you risked losing the protections granted by its registration.

If that is the case, maybe third-party application developers should be worried after all.

In addition, the above sentiment is how Twitter feels about the situation today, but what about in five years from now? What if it’s acquired by Google or News Corp–and they have a more stringent policy on the use of their trademarks?"

2.) Can Twitter gain control?

Alexander Macgillivray

I do believe that Twitter can gain control of their trademark/brand, but it’s going to be difficult. Twitter might finally be on the right track with the recent rumored hiring of Alexander Macgillivray, who was Google’s associate general counsel for products and intellectual property. Will Alex bring to Twitter Google’s aggressive approach to protecting trademarks?

My guess is we’ll see a new Twitter before the end of the year, one that doesn’t just roll over.

3.) Publishers need to step up, and are they at fault?

The Drudge Report has 12 million unique visitors monthly, according to the media kit. They also certainly serve a lot of ad impressions to their readers, over 669 million in the past 31 days! Shouldn’t the Drudge Report be concerned with the quality and truthfulness of the ads displayed on their site?

The company that handles the advertising for The Drudge Report is Intermarkets, Inc. The following is a sentence from their website about "corporate integrity"…

"At Intermarkets we are committed to conducting business with integrity, building valuable win-win relationships and providing exceptional service."

With the above sentence in mind, Intermarkets may want to re-look at the "Twitter is Hiring" ad? Twitter isn’t hiring here, there is no Lexington Reporter publication, my Google search of Mike Steadman came up empty, the comments on the article don’t appear genuine, and there definitely is no affiliation with Twitter and the fine print mention of this doesn’t cut it! Oh, and by the way, I would love to meet a real person who makes $10,000 a month placing text ads in their tweets as a result of this program!

So, I guess the real question is… who is to blame for this misleading "Twitter is Hiring" ad? Is it The Drudge Report for not stepping in and saying pull it – or is it Intermarkets for even running the ad in their network? Tell us what you think.