That tweet from a pal might be a sales pitch

OTTAWA — Tweeters take note: if your friends have been tweeting about Skype, an iPod or Cisco cell phones lately, they might not be doing it because they’re concerned consumers.

OTTAWA — Tweeters take note: if your friends have been tweeting about Skype, an iPod or Cisco cell phones lately, they might not be doing it because they’re concerned consumers.

A service called Magpie is recruiting Twitter users to let advertisers send out messages through their accounts in exchange for cash.

Twitter users provide tiny bursts of information about their activities by updating or “tweeting” their answer to the question, “What are you doing right now?” Tweets must be 140 characters or less.

But there is money to be made in mundane tweets.

Twitter doesn’t release the number of active accounts, but web traffic analysis site Compete.com reports that Twitter is now the third most popular social networking service after Facebook and Myspace. Six million people visited Twitter last February.

Rapidly growing social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook make advertisers salivate because of the wealth of personal data they accumulate.

Facebook is already making money by turning users’ profile information into a massive marketing survey and letting companies use it to create individually tailored ads.

With vast and growing armies of twitterers — and Twitter’s increasing importance as a professional networking tool — there is a concern about the transparency of what’s being peddled by sponsors rather than users.

Jessica Weber recently told her followers on Twitter about a sale at the Apple store.

“Apple has refurbished iTVs on sale,” the tweet read, complete with the punctuation lapses common to twitter users. “while supplies last . i got mine couple months ago. love it!!!”

Weber, a graphic designer from Victoria, B.C., doesn’t have an iTV.

In fact, she didn’t even write that message.

Magpie is not affiliated with Twitter. But Marshall Kirkpatrick, the head writer for the tech blog ReadWriteWeb, said the way Magpie is using the site to make money shows the potential for social media to take its business model in a disturbing direction.

Online ads are nothing new, but the difference is disclosure. There’s a “presumption of authentic voice” in Twitter messages, said Kirkpatrick.

The amount of money Magpie users can earn is based on how many followers they have and what they’re tweeting about.

In the six months Weber’s been using the service, she says she’s accumulated about $1.50 from corporate use of her name. Users have to make about $80 before they get paid.

Even though the likelihood of getting rich quick is low for the average Twitter user, Magpie is gaining popularity with both Twitter users and advertisers in Canada.

Jan Schulz-Hofen, the head of Magpie, told The Canadian Press there are more than 1,000 companies who use the service, and about 50 are Canadian. About 80,000 of the two million people who follow Magpie users on Twitter are Canadian, he said.

Just Posted

Councillors want to represent Red Deer at AUMA

City council approves endorsement

Cannabis smoke raises health concerns

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Avid Penhold climber Catlin Hannah’s death a reminder of the dangers of scrambling

Hannah never returned from his Mount Smuts attempt on Aug. 12.

Children, elderly at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

VANCOUVER — Thick smoke blanketing British Columbia communities far from any flames… Continue reading

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Police chiefs want new data-sharing treaty with U.S. as privacy questions linger

OTTAWA — Canada’s police chiefs are pressing the Trudeau government to sign… Continue reading

Pope on sex abuse: “We showed no care for the little ones”

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis issued a letter to Catholics around the… Continue reading

Ottawa announces $189M to extend employment insurance for seasonal workers

ESCUMINAC, N.B. — Ottawa has announced $189 million for an employment insurance… Continue reading

Trudeau formally announces he’ll run again in next year’s election

MONTREAL — Justin Trudeau will run again in the 2019 federal election.… Continue reading

Smoke from B.C. wildfires prompts air quality advisories across Western Canada

VANCOUVER — More smoky, hazy air is expected to blanket much of… Continue reading

Anti-pipeline protesters released days before weeklong jail sentences end

MAPLE RIDGE, B.C. — Several pipeline protesters were released from a British… Continue reading

All eyes on Andrew Scheer as Conservative convention set for Halifax

OTTAWA — After a week of internal caucus squabbles, Conservative Leader Andrew… Continue reading

Trump says his White House counsel not a ‘RAT’ like Nixon’s

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that his White House… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month