Casual Evangelist

A mission to learn a little about a lot…

BrightKite on Twitter is *Friendly* Spam

Posted by Andrew on May 9, 2008

The latest “gotta have an invite code” craze on Twitter is for Brightkite, the “location-based social network.” I’m not currently using Brightkite, but I can see the potential value of the service (find out where your friends are and see who’s near you, etc.). However, like other valuable Web-based services, such as Flickr, the Twitter interface is useless and only serves to spam your friends with irrelevant information.

In my opinion, Auto-Tweets from Brightkite users may have dethroned Flickr-generated updates as the king of useless and annoying Twitter spam. While the Twitter application by nature makes professional spamming ineffective by robbing the spammer of an audience, willing or otherwise, Auto-Tweet spam is different. It’s from your friends, and you don’t want to unfollow your friends. So you deal with it or face an unpleasant decision.

A typical Brightkite Auto-Tweet looks like this:

I’m at 123 Elm Street, Springfield KY (Springfield, KY)” and a link to a map.

There’s no context. Nothing about what’s happening, why you’re there, who you’re with, or what you’re doing. Just dry geographical information. What are Twitter followers supposed to do with this information? Hop in their cars and drive to your location? We don’t even know how long you plan on being there, and you may be gone by then. Hell, with gas prices these days, that could really dent the wallet.

There are a few useful Auto-Tweets, such as a new blog post or a WhyGoSolo event posting, both of which provide contextual information in the message as well as a call for interested parties to take action by clicking through for additional information. Looking at a map or viewing a blurry photo of your cat provides no value.

If you’re somewhere and want people to join you, by all means manually tweet it. And if you’ve taken a particularly stunning or interesting photo, provide your followers a link.

Go ahead, un-check that Twitter update box. Your followers will thank you.

UPDATE: Ike Pigott has initiated #darkanvil

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10 Responses to “BrightKite on Twitter is *Friendly* Spam”

  1. extraface said

    +1 let’s keep twitter for human-to-human communication as much as possible for as long as possible.

  2. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with twitter bots, but I do think a twitter account should be a human OR a bot. Not both.

  3. Ha, glad to make it on your “useful autotweets” list. šŸ™‚

    I’ve dorked around with BrightKite a bit and honestly, I’m not impressed. It seems like it could be a good idea but there are still a number of things missing… like context. You nail it. Without context I don’t know if there is action to be taken or if it’s just informational. So it makes me just not care.

  4. Frymaster said

    I admit it. I’m both a twitter noob and a total maps junkie, so I can’t resist checking out an address I think is cool.

  5. mobilist said

    You make a very good point, but I don’t think I completely agree with you.
    My problem is I don’t wanna have to post a link or photo twice, I share things (like I believe most people do) that I feel other will be interested in and I want to be able to it once and it should appear in all relevant places.

    To solve the spam problem, I believe people should start using aggregators like friendfeed and socialthing.
    Check out this post on lifestreaming:
    http://mobilistic.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/lifestreaming/

  6. Ike said

    @Mobilist – …and there we will disagree.

    FriendFeed and SocialThing are for the tiny percentage of people who NEED that type of aggregation. For most casual users of services, there’s absolutely no need to sign up for something like that when you’re only using a network or two. Telling others they need to sign up for something else just because it makes life better for *you* isn’t very friendly.

    It’s not just a matter of getting hit through multiple channels. In the case of BrightKite, it’s the complete lack of context. I’m here. You’re not. And the vague mystery of why you’re there isn’t enough to entice me to join BrightKite.

    So I will continue the DarkAnvil crusade.

  7. Liana said

    I agree. I have the “send to Twitter” option turned to “off”. I do have Brightkite update my location within Twitter.com, but that doesn’t go out as a tweet. And, unless one is using Twitter.com and visiting my profile, he/she won’t see my location updates. There is an option to send to Twitter when a note or photo is posted without sending location information. These auto-posts would provide context vs. just sending location information. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  8. You nailed it! I think it will come into it’s own eventually, but for now, it’s annoying. (And this is coming from a brightkite user…!)

  9. Viceroyalty says : I absolutely agree with this !

  10. netlife said

    I have also found the brightkite auto-tweet a bit annoying. Having used brightkite however I can understand the appeal. Their iPhone site has a stack of options and features in it – and I love the location based social networking aspect. Dilemma!

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