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Cash For Tweets and Facebook Posts? Aussie Startup Pays You to Astroturf 156

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the mcdonalds-makes-the-tastiest-burgers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "While the celebs are already charging big money for their Tweets, an Aussie startup is ranking everyday people and turning them into product salespeople. After a successful start Down Under they have now hit Silicon Valley, but will Americans embrace selling to their friends?" From the article: "In a nutshell, individuals sign up to the Social Loot website and are assigned companies to promote to their circle of online friends. They are then paid on a sliding scale based on the amount of traffic their posts generate, and the quality of referrals and number of resulting sales. This is tracked by a code embedded in the links promoted by Social Loot’s spruikers."
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Cash For Tweets and Facebook Posts? Aussie Startup Pays You to Astroturf

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:53PM (#39853239)

    This is advertising. It is also a lie. That's fraud, plain and simple.

    • by niftydude (1745144) on Monday April 30, 2012 @09:57PM (#39853277)
      You make a good point. When the Alan Jones cash for comments scandal broke, he got absolutely slammed in court for not disclosing who was paying him to promote various things on his show.

      The same should apply to tweets. They are broadcasts, and so the people making them should disclose whether it is advertising or not.
      • by zr (19885)

        Can't have it both ways. Either free speech, paid or not, or, a form of censorship. Because someone will have to be enforcing the disclosure requirement. and that someone would _have_ to be given authority to investigate any twitterer. On the scale of the internet this is _insane_.

      • It doesn't really matter -- twitter is cutting their own throat allowing this kind of slimy stuff. It's just a matter of time til everyone knows twitter is for suckers that want to read a bunch of really short astroturf. Plus this kind of behavior is practically eternal. "Caveat Emptor", "a fool and his money are soon parted". It's just real life continuing to spread on the internet.
        • It's just a matter of time til everyone knows twitter is for suckers that want to read a bunch of really short astroturf

          About minus four years?

      • by million_monkeys (2480792) on Monday April 30, 2012 @11:15PM (#39853803)

        You make a good point. When the Alan Jones cash for comments scandal broke, he got absolutely slammed in court for not disclosing who was paying him to promote various things on his show. The same should apply to tweets. They are broadcasts, and so the people making them should disclose whether it is advertising or not.

        Or you could just not be friends with people who will spam you with crap so they can earn 8 cents a week.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Since when is pitching products illegal. It's not something I'd do to my friends for products I don't believe in though.

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        It's specifically an Australian company. Australia does have some rules about having to disclose when you are being paid to say something.

        They apply to the media, but who knows when a court will decide that a tweet is the same as a hosting a radio show.

      • by rtb61 (674572) on Monday April 30, 2012 @10:51PM (#39853655) Homepage

        This has nothing to do with selling product. This is all about corruptly flooding forums with trolls, thousands of them. The marketing and promotional lie is selling products to friends the reality is poisoning every possible social network with an endless stream of bullshit marketing.

        How long will an social site's last when you have a couple of hundred thousand trolls flooding the site with links, desperate to collect a couple of cents per click.

        The guy is nothing but another mass trolling pig. Doesn't give a crap about people's social interactions, quite happy to bring them all crashing down, basically he wants to become a social forum spammer and that's what the arse hole is selling to corporations.

        You can filter out some IP's but not hundreds of thousands of scattered ones, you can block robots but not hundreds of thousands of pathetic greedy ignorant trolls.

        A purveyor of lies on a mass scale. Of course the trolls he employs will become the most hated people on the internet, kicked out of social network after social network.

        • Are you telling me that this is gonna kill Facebook and Twitter? Really? REALLY?
          Naa, you're just saying it to make me happy!

          • by Plunky (929104) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @03:09AM (#39854699)

            Are you telling me that this is gonna kill Facebook and Twitter? Really? REALLY?

            In previous years, usenet was a social gathering ground on the internet.. being unmoderated was its strength, but also its weakness and Canter & Siegel started a movement that killed it eventually. This has the capability to kill off twitter and facebook sure, but since they both have a controlling entity who could institute moderation then perhaps they can stave off demise by some quick thinking..

            • by Dan541 (1032000)

              It's not Facebook or Twitter that need to react. It's the people who receive the message. I unfollow and unfriend people who post pointless spam, that's the solution. People lose their audience and soon they are worth nothing.

        • by N1AK (864906)

          You can filter out some IP's but not hundreds of thousands of scattered ones, you can block robots but not hundreds of thousands of pathetic greedy ignorant trolls.

          Which doesn't really matter on a social network. I have a limited number of contacts. If the filters the site use don't work then it's a few seconds work for me to ignore or remove the person who posted it. People have been doing company sponsored advertising for years, the get a free iPad links being one of the more recent examples. Some people

        • by tbannist (230135)

          The guy is nothing but another mass trolling pig. Doesn't give a crap about people's social interactions, quite happy to bring them all crashing down, basically he wants to become a social forum spammer and that's what the arse hole is selling to corporations.

          The world you're looking for is capitalist or "job creator" if you're Republican. This is practically the history of corporations. Find a new untapped resource and spoil it for everyone else by monetising it in the filthiest way possible until the "evil government" steps in to protect people from the "upstanding businessman" who is "creating wealth".

          I fully agree with you, Facebook and Twitter will be entering a war with companies like this if they know what's good for them. This is really no different f

        • Don't worry about Facebook (or, in my case, don't get your hopes up).

          What will happen is simply this: FB will notice that there are people getting paid to spill crap. They'll change their TOS and forbid shilling (at least if you don't pay them for it), a few people will get their account banned and everyone else will cower in fear of being the next and the whole crap stops.

          What's left is the "professional" shills. Just like you have today.

        • by Dan541 (1032000)

          How long will an social site's last when you have a couple of hundred thousand trolls flooding the site with links,...

          They seem to be coping just fine at the moment.

    • by Endovior (2450520)
      If it worked as well as all that, you might have a case for 'fraud'. But in practice... it really doesn't. It's a fundamental principle of marketing... though people are pretty stupid, they aren't quite as stupid as you'd like them to be. If you go around advertising to your 'friends' on a regular basis, they WILL catch on, even if you try to be sneaky about it. And then you'll have less friends, and you'll have less people to advertise to. You can mitigate this somewhat by being selective, and not bot
    • by similar_name (1164087) on Monday April 30, 2012 @10:39PM (#39853561)
      What's the problem. This sounds like a revolution in web 2.0 synergies. You win and your friends win by getting vital decision making information regarding the brands they already love. For more information just follow this link?spammer=on&friends=off
    • This is advertising. It is also a lie. That's fraud, plain and simple.

      What if I post my dropbox referral code? I don't get anything but free space.

      Ahem - hey, I like dropbox, check it out! http://db.tt/hfwPL1N [db.tt] Sign up with that code and you get 500 megs free too!

      lol. It's funny because it's true.

    • This is advertising. It is also a lie. That's fraud, plain and simple.

      Kill it before it multiplies. Hang and eviscerate on site.

    • by wmbetts (1306001)

      This will fall under what I call "affiliate marketing laws" and the FTC is very serious about them. Go read their website (the ftc) and you'll see how many people and companies they've sued recently.

    • They've been doing it on slashdot for years. Time to expand I guess.
    • by Spacejock (727523)
      Yep, and if anyone tweets me this crap I'll just unfollow them. When enough people do that their scant pennies in commission will dwindle along with their followers.
  • i quit reading facebook update because of all of the adds for different games and crap on facebook. all i wanted was to know what my freinds who do not live near me where doing in meatspace now all there is are posts of "look at this funny/inspirational/religious/photoshopped picture some else posted i and i am reposting" and "i am playing a flash game you need to play the flash game to" i don't want to see more freaking adds. can we a decrapafied section of the Internet where we all agree that any spammer

    • by r1348 (2567295)

      While I agree with your overall point, you shouldn't post when drunk.

    • Working on it. First thing to fix: the search engine. I think Google has gotten all the money they are possibly going to get at this point from overlooking SEOs, and should start delisting all of them immediately. Ask the founders to try and find something using their own search engine; when they find it littered with ads, perhaps they will feel motivated to find a way to fix it.

      On a separate note, I've been equally annoyed about the Web 2.0, sell your Facebook friends, kind of thing. I have a few friends w

      • I don't see how any of that is different from having an annoying friend who constantly goes on about his business or keeps handing you leaflets every time you see them. Just tell them you aren't interested, if they keep doing it then tell them it is annoying and ask them to stop. If they don't stop then they are obviously so obnoxious you are probably better off not being friends with them anymore.
    • can we a decrapafied section of the Internet

      I don't really use Facebook so I can't give you a specific guide but you can just filter out all that stuff so only 'real' posts appear on your page.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2012 @10:00PM (#39853305)

    Social Loot has the best service to offer so far. We testet all the available options besides Social Loot and Social Loot is the winner for us. Social Loot.

  • Ah, excellent... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday April 30, 2012 @10:13PM (#39853385) Journal
    According to TFA, this 'social loot' nonsense requires some sort of affiliate ID baked in(presumably to the usual bit of gibberish at the end of the URL) for tracking the spamming performance of their little minions.

    With any luck, this should allow automated recognition of people who are astroturfing for these guys and it's always good to have a new way of identifying awful people. At a service level, the astroturf can then be removed, downranked by search engines, etc. At a personal level, we can each do our part by reminding those culprits we know that spammers are abhuman scum who go to the special hell, and deserve it.
    • Heh, my first thought too was that this is a way to filter people. For otherwise close friends, block their feeds, and have a talk with them in person. For anyone else, instant de-friending. Alternatively, it provides a way to get a list of companies who want to lie their way into your wallet. A useful thing to know and act on.
      • by tbannist (230135)

        Not really, most of them will probably be companies you never would have heard of otherwise. This is probably going to work on the same principle as spam. They'll post a million shill messages and if they sell 4 of the product, it'll be consider a "success".

  • I was wondering why all my friends suddenly started trying to get me to buy a 747 with a big laser on it.

  • This is a much better way to stay in touch with your customer base then suing them (eh MPAA?)
  • How Internet smart are you? (And, for a bonus point is it correct to capitalize Internet?)

    I can see it both ways - the youth will be jaded with familiarity about how the world works (wait - new patent idea = "how the worlds works + ON THE INTERNET") vs the wisdom of the more experienced... I don't have a good sample - my kids, are, well, young(er) AND smart, so I have confounding factors in my data points... but they don't believe half the shit on the Internet as it is. How old is the phrase "caveat empt
  • by DemonGenius (2247652) on Monday April 30, 2012 @10:21PM (#39853441)
    ... this kind of business would be called "Shilling For Shillings".
  • Just when you thought all the innovation in spam ideas was over... they hit you with another one. This is only marginally better than the 20,000 or so previous innovative spam ideas, but it's still missing the point of direct advertising on the internet. You're not moving product on the internet unless you're giving people a reason to like you. If they don't like you, they're not going to buy from you. And there's nothing that makes people like you less than spam. Call it social media advertising, call it g
  • Block It (Score:5, Informative)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Monday April 30, 2012 @10:44PM (#39853595)

    I don't know about Twitter at least, but on Facebook, all the posts came from the Social Loot application. It took all of 5 seconds to "block all posts from Social Loot" to my wall, and now I need never know of its existence (except for Slashdot - thanks guys).

  • No more trust. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ZorinLynx (31751) on Monday April 30, 2012 @10:50PM (#39853643) Homepage

    Great. So now when a friend or acquaintance says something nice about a product or service, I won't be able to trust their opinion because I won't know if they were paid to say it or not.

    Nice job polluting Twitter and other sites with stupid marketing and more distrust in what people say. It's freaking bad enough already.

    • If they are the kind of friend who would push products on you just because they are getting paid then you probably couldn't trust their opinion anyway. Now at least you know. The friends who give you a well reasoned recommendation or information about their personal experience with a product / service can probably be trusted. The 'friends' who send you a referrer link out of the blue probably can't.

    • by msobkow (48369)

      I find it interesting that you would call someone you don't trust and know "friend."

      The people I call "friend" (as opposed to what Facebook says) are trustworthy. I wouldn't hang around them if they weren't.

  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Monday April 30, 2012 @11:12PM (#39853783)

    If social media websites are making a mint off of harvesting personal information, it's high time their users started seeing some money as well.

    It's up to the service providers to police their own services, and I feel no pity for them.

  • ...are assigned companies to promote to their circle of online friends.

    What a load of crap. "Go promote this crap you may or may not have used or like, and we'll pay you".

    I know not everyone shares my belief on this, but the only way I'll endorse or promote your product is if I believe it's a good product and a good value. Mostly, that means I personally use your product and like it, but there are some cases where I know a product is good and popular, but doesn't serve my needs. In that case, I'll still recommend it to people I think will benefit from it. If I don't know your

  • I'd be willing to do this just as soon as I develop a new set of friends that I don't care about, so I don't have to lose the friends I actually like! :)

    • by hackula (2596247)
      Yeah, it is totally evil, but I could spam people I don't know. I am sure they will be paying 12 cents an hour, however, so no thanks.
  • by zAPPzAPP (1207370) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @12:49AM (#39854235)

    Anything I write must tickle at least someone's fancy.

    Either I like a product, it makes the company happy, or I don't like it, it makes their competition happy.

    So either way, I should get my money right? No need to get influenced by money.

    Can I cash in retrospectively for all the things I ever wrote? There must be a lot of money in there. Just need to pitch it to the right 'clients'. $_$

  • Quickly Squelched (Score:4, Insightful)

    by silverhalide (584408) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @01:00AM (#39854287)

    People have a very low tolerance personal space intrusions. People on the whole have a pretty decent intuition on whether someone genuinely is recommending something vs. is being paid to do so. People also have a pretty good intuition on figuring out who is a paid shill. Anyone who seriously tries to make money from this will quickly find themselves without friends. I can't think of a single friend of mine that would tolerate this shit on their feeds. I hope this gains traction as it will be a quick and easy way to thin out the online social circle.

    If this catches on (it won't), you'll just end up with a circle of technically ignorant folks circle-jerking each other for ad revenue while the rest of us get on with our lives.

  • I just emailed Minidisc Australia and Social Loot sales this email:
    ---
    Hi guys

    I'm a previous customer of yours (I purchased a Cowon J3 a couple of years ago, order no 40580), and previously I've recommended other people buy stuff from you.

    I note that you are now using Social Loot advertising (having come across this company via slashdot post):
    http://www.socialloot.com/minidisc_australia [socialloot.com]

    My opinion is that the kind of 'shill advertising' promoted by Social Loot is about as low as it gets. As a result, I will:
    a) no longer be recommending you, in fact I will be recommending against purchasing from you (and will explain my reasoning regarding the use of Social Loot)
    b) no longer consider you for future purchases for myself

    I realise I'm just one person. However, I am the 'go to guy' for a number of relatives and friends for technology matters, and based on past experience I am pretty sure that this will cost you a sale every three months or so. Over the course of one year I would estimate lost revenue at AUS$500 - AUS$1000.

    If you stop using Social Loot advertising I will be happy to reverse my decision on this matter. Please note I've also cced this email to the Social Loot sales email address - unlike them, and apparently you, I am fine with being honest about my opinions.

    Regards

    Mike Both
    ----
    If enough people do this, it could make a difference.

    • GoodonyaMate! and I mean that with sincerity, otherwise I would have said "GoodonYa....Mate!". :)

      However the old fart cynic in me says: Good luck competing with "A current affair" and "Today tonight" who have both been shilling these kind of "pocket money" schemes for at least a decade. Then there's "Australia's most read columnist", Andrew Bolt, a shill for God in an Akubra ....errr... I mean the minning industry. And who can forget "Australia's most popular talk show host" Alan Jones [blogspot.com.au],[NSFW]*, a convic
  • by Arrogant-Bastard (141720) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:11AM (#39855451)
    I recommend taking the following steps to defend your operations against spammer Gary Munitz:

    1. Block all email to/from socialloot.com. (This might need updating if they register additional domains to avoid blocking. A very common spammer tactic is to use sequentially numbered domains, e.g., example01.com, example02.com, example03.com.)

    2. Firewall out 122.252.6.0/24. Make the block is bidirectional so that nobody on your network can reach their allocation. (This will probably need updating if they receive an additional allocation.)

    3. If you run a DNSBL or RHSBL, list the domain and the network allocation. If you maintain a list of spammer/phisher/abuser domains, add the domain.

    4. If you run an ISP or similar operation, make it a policy that any user participating in this scam will be terminated immediately. Same for mailing lists, web forums, newsgroups, etc.

    5. Do not hire anyone who has ever worked for socialloot.com. Make sure that words spread that working for spammer Gary Munitz is toxic.
    1. 1) Get a group of like-minded friends together
    2. 2) Set up some junk (is there any other kind) Facebook / Twitter / whatever accounts purely for shilling to each other
    3. 3) Use social loot to promote to each other in these junk accounts - just click the links so your buddies can get paid, this could probably be automated
    4. 4) ???
    5. 5) Profit
  • This is one of the reasons I quit Facebook, and why I think FB will eventually tank. It won't be long before your wall ends up being nothing but dozens of "posts" from your friends breathlessly raving about cheese-stuffed-something-or-other, or toilet bowl cleaner. Because eventually, if you are on FB, everything you buy is going to be announced to all your FB friends in this way, whether you like it or not.

    • by Thuktun (221615)

      It won't be long before your wall ends up being nothing but dozens of "posts" from your friends breathlessly raving about cheese-stuffed-something-or-other, or toilet bowl cleaner.

      If friends start barking ads, they'll soon find themselves friendless.

  • I'd never heard of a "spruiker" before. Had to google it. Still have no idea how to say it.

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