Thursday, February 9, 2012

Am I Being Followed?

I've started to get a bit paranoid on Twitter. Of course I know its all about people following each other but some strange things have happened recently.

The first one was straight forward and to be sort of expected. A couple of days ago my mothers BT broadband went down. After a heavy intake of breath, because I knew what was coming, I phoned their helpline. As usual the poor Indian gentleman had trouble understanding my such thick cockney London accent (ha!) that it took 10 minutes to spell my name, and to be honest I struggled to understand what he was trying to get me to do. To cut a long 30 minutes short I hung up and gave up. 

I tweeted my annoyance.

"What a help desk BT have got. 30 minute conversation with me not understanding him, him not understanding me, got us nowhere "

Within an hour I had a reply on twitter of 

" That doesn't look good. I can help with any issues you may be having with your BT services. What's up?"

The first point is not really related to this article but just a general rant about why BT can't employ some more of their huge wisdom into getting someone who can understand me and my problem on the phone rather than picking up my tweet (and yes I know it was probably automated)

The real point is that BT are clearly employing people (or using tools) to watch out for mentions  of themselves - you could argue this is good customer service but I found it weird. And I am sure nearly all major commercial companies do it.

Now back to the christmas holidays. I sadly spent a morning at probably what most of us see as the worst shopping experience ever - IKEA. (not that many shopping experiences are good)

I bought my kids some biscuits in the cafe (see below - quite sad I know as they only have 4 letters surprisingly)  - I tweeted

"What am I doing here!!!!"

Nowhere did I mention Ikea in text. Within a week I had two mentions on twitter from random people with saying something like (and the original is not available on twitter as its over a month) "Claim your free Ikea voucher"  with a link to some spurious site.

Now I could understand if I had mentioned Ikea in the text of the tweet so that some automated spam system would get me (probably like the BT one) - however, to me this shows someone is looking at tweets and analysing the picture content. Please someone tell me how this is done without human intervention.

Fast forward to last week. I happened to be in the service station on the M4 just before the Severn Bridge. Again sadly, I took a picture of the bridge and tweeted it (it was a lovely clear day - thats my excuse) The text just said 

"Time for a break. "

Within 5 minutes I was followed by Motorway Services user on twitter (surely that has to be one of the saddest accounts) Blimey that was quick - the only way I can see that they knew I was there was through twitter geo location - again it must be automated. 

Are these impressive bits of commercial marketing - yes. Is it a worry - I think so personally. This is just the tip of the iceberg. What use is it to be followed by Ikea, BT and Motorway services - and where will this lead us. Could it be a future where everything you do, say and where you are will result in some social interaction from a commercial company. 

Brilliant but scary.

[Below is a link and a graphic of some research I found into what information is in every tweet - thats a lot of info]

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