theodp (442580) writes Giving others the impression that individuals support something that they actually don't could get you fined and placed under house arrest. But if you're Twitter, it could boost your bottom line. Gigaom's Carmel DeAmicis reports that brands pay Twitter to falsely appear in your following list, an advertising technique brought to light by William Shatner after he saw that 'MasterCard' appeared in his following list despite the fact that he didn't follow it. "By making it look like someone follows an account that they don't," writes DeAmicis, "it sends a false signal that said user cares about that brand. Although the brands are marked as 'promoted,' it's not necessarily clear that the user in question doesn't actually follow the brand. There's ethical considerations to be had. Hypothetical examples: What if you're vegan and don't want people to think you're following Burger King? Or you're the CEO of Visa and don't want people thinking you're following MasterCard? Or you're a pro-life activist and don't want people thinking you're following Planned Parenthood?" Or, if you're @BarackObama and don't want people to think you're following @TPPatriots!
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