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Twitter has a new advertising channel: your following list

No matter your school of thought on how you use Twitter, the list of people you follow now includes advertising. The first customer: MasterCard. On the web, and in the official Twitter apps for iPhone and Android, you'll find that you, and everybody else, have MasterCard as a promoted entry in your Following list.

Now, this doesn't mean that you're actually following MasterCard — they have just 388,000 followers and not the quarter-million user base of Twitter. It just means that MasterCard has managed to get an ad inserted in every following list tempting you to follow them back (at least on the iOS and web interfaces it's clear that you're not actually following them, the Android app shows the same checkmark button for accounts you're actually following and the MasterCard promotional listing). The left-to-fallow official Twitter apps for BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone, however, aren't showing the sponsored listing, nor are third-party Twitter clients.

While for most of us that's not the worst thing in the world — you're not actually seeing all of MasterCard's tweets, it is an interesting concept for advertising, especially if you're the type that looks at the list of whom somebody else is following. MasterCard is there. Everywhere you look on Twitter's following lists, you'll find MasterCard. Even for Visa and American Express. We're sure they're utterly thrilled about that.

For public figures and companies that can create an interesting conundrum. Many are cognizant of what accounts they follow. As, of all people, William Shatner noted:

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Some of suggested blocking the offending account, and it's true that it will remove MasterCard from the sponsored slot in your following list. Problem is, it's simply replaced by another entry like

So yes, your Following list and every Following list you see now contains ads masquerading as follows. You're not actually following them, and Twitter isn't explicitly saying that you are, but MasterCard is there, holding down a spot in your top ten most recent follows.

Via: Marketing Land

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm (the old one), and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

  • Wonderful. That's exactly why I don't use twitter. Posted via the Android Central App on the 2nd Gen. Moto X
  • Exactly! I still use Twitter but only threw my Flipboard app. I took the actual Twitter app off my phone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Will twitter ever stop doing one thing after the other to screw their users? Posted via the Android Central App on the 2nd Gen. Moto X
  • Bastards don't even have the common courtesy to follow back!
  • Lmao Posted from the bando
  • Haha why not just pay us .. ? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I started blocking any account that I don't follow that twitter felt I needed to see in my timeline long ago... Then I stopped using the official client. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'll just continue using a 3rd party app which doesn't fall victim to this nonsense. Twitter is a fantastic platform that the current executive team is trying as hard as possible to ruin.
  • You want see them but your followers will think you love you some Mastercard. This is not about what you see it is about what Twitter is making you represent.
  • Huh. I'm not seeing it. Maybe I'm exempt because I follow @CIA?
  • That's exactly what a CIA agent would say!
  • The solution is simple (if you must use Twitter): Use a third party client. I use Falcon Pro and APW timeline widget and never see any sort of advertisements. They can kiss my @$$ on the crack.
  • The problem is that other people, still using the stock app (or web), will still see these horribly deceptive (IMO) listings.
  • I thought about re-creating my twitter account. And then I saw this.
  • I don't know about William Shatner, but I'd rather be listed as following IFC than MasterCard. Posted via the Android Central App
  • "they have just 388,000 followers and not the quarter-million user base of Twitter" Pretty sure there is a typo here... 388,000 > quarter-million. :)
  • Way to go Twitter (-_-) /sarcasm/ Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5
  • Cool… reading this article just freed up approx 30MB of storage on my device. Posted via Android Central App
  • I am with Captain Kirk, sounds like an endorsement. Guess there is nothing in this world that is free. Surprise surprise surprise...
  • If you don't pay for the product, you are the product. Looks like I'll now be deleting my Twitter account too. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Honestly I'd rather twitter just run ads this none sense is just anti consumer in my opinion Posted via Android Central App
  • I have now uninstalled twitter. G plus from now on Posted via the Android Central App
  • Is their anyway I can get a Google+ account without that Picasa thing going on my camera? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Picasa thing?
  • I'm just waiting for the day Twitter decides to shut down access for the third-party apps. This is why I like using Carbon, but there's that sword of Damocles hanging over all of them. Posted via Android Central App
  • Twitter will eventually snuff out 3rd party clients... When they dona new API they won't allow them to have it. Already treat 3rd party developers like a stepchild in the corner (Uh oh... We allowed them access, but we're doing all these things people hate, to make shitloads of money!.. Better push them out slowly so they HAVE to use us again *thunder clasp with evil laugher*) Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well, the day Twitter gets rid of 3rd party clients , I'll stop using it and wil delete my account
  • These sites should start paying people to use them !! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't see it in my list. Posted via the Android Central App