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The Tragedy of TrueTwit.

bad twitter

Dear Fellow Author on Twitter:

I’m writing this open letter to you because I just received a direct message from you saying, “[your name] uses TrueTwit Validation Service. Please click here to validate.”

Now, I know there are a lot of people out there giving social media advice these days to authors trying to gain visibility for their books. They’re a dime a dozen. In fact, there are so many of them, I don’t want to be one of them. I would rather spend my time writing zombie books. Yet here I am, writing a blog giving advice on how to use social media. I’m doing this letter to you as a blog, and thus not calling out your name(s), because I’m too polite–and I don’t want to harm my own brand–to send it to you directly. But you forced me into it. So here goes. Although it’s not solicited, I’m going to give you a piece of advice on how to use Twitter. Ready?

Don’t use TrueTwit Validation Service.

Let me repeat that.

DON’T USE TRUETWIT VALIDATION SERVICE. EVER.

I am not a spambot. I’m not a webcam whore, I don’t have McDonald’s gift cards, I’m not offering to sell you 5,000 followers, and I don’t have penis enlargement pills. Er, I mean, I’m not selling penis enlargement pills. So why are you treating me as if I am?

Look, I wanted to follow you. I saw your profile on Twitter and I clicked it on. If I clicked the follow button, it’s because I saw something in your tweets or your profile that I liked.

Before I ever saw a single one of your tweets–before we even had a chance to have a conversation–the first thing that happens, the very first contact I ever have from you, is an unsolicited direct message saying, “[your name] uses TrueTwit Validation Service.” You want me to prove I’m not a webcam whore, a 5,000 follower peddler or a purveyor of penis enlargement pills. This is the first thing you say to me in our entire conversation.

Do you know what I did as soon as I received this message? I mean, immediately–after not even five seconds had passed since I first laid eyes on your message?

Yup. You guessed it. I unfollowed your rude and suspicious ass.

All it took was one automated direct message to turn my attitude toward you from “I like what this person is saying, I’d like to see more” to “get away from me and don’t come back.”

That means you’ll never get a chance to make me smile, or to enlighten me with some bit of information you might share, or give me the chance to observe you conversing with friends–some of whom I might also want to follow, and perhaps a very few of which might become very good friends of mine. That’s how I find friends on Twitter. The people who I really like and treasure on Twitter are very often people I never sought out, but who came to my attention through @ replies or RT’s by someone I did follow.

Most importantly for you, it means I will never buy your book. You just lost a reader, a customer, a potential fan, a potential reviewer, perhaps even a contact who could help you spread the word about your book(s) among like-minded people who might have bought, read and loved them as much as I might have.

But none of that will ever happen, because you signed up with TrueTwit Validation Service. You employed an electronic bouncer at the door of your Twitter account, a faceless, insensate e-thug who shoots on sight and presumes everyone is guilty until proven innocent. Your insight, your humor, and (again most importantly) your books are all on the other side of this bouncer. He is your ambassador. He is your envoy, your vanguard. He’s your face. And he just made me walk away.

Now, you say, I’m being harsh. I mean, since I’m not a spambot selling penis pills or McDonald’s gift cards, I have nothing to fear from the bouncer, do I? It’s just a click, a captcha. Is that such an imposition? If I really want to connect with you, why should I object to doing this? Especially when it’s obvious that I hate spambots as much as you do?

I’ll tell you why, Author, and I hope you don’t think I’m being too blunt here, but it shows two things about you. It shows that (1) you don’t know how to use social media, and (2) you’re willing to let a few bad apples spoil everything for everyone, because you can’t be bothered to putting in the elbow grease to deal with them yourself. Neither of these are very flattering impressions you want to leave in the minds of your potential readers, customers, colleagues and friends.

As for point number (1), it distresses me that, in this era when there are literally terabytes of web pages and blogs out there about how to use (and how not to use) social media, you still haven’t seen posts like this or this. You may have a thousand more followers than I do, but that very first TrueTwit DM positively shouts from the rooftops, “I’m brand spanking new at this and I don’t know how it works.” If you’re new to this, that’s fine–all of us were new at one point in time–but the trick is not to advertise it.

Point number (2) is more serious and troubling. You’re going to let them–the webcam whores and penis-pill peddlers–set the terms of engagement on your Twitter? Because you got followed by a couple of spambots, you’re going to make a bunch of innocent people squint at some incomprehensible captcha in order to follow you? Really? Really? You would give them that power? You would let them do that?

This is different than making blog comments registration-only or other routine behaviors to root out spam. If I come to your blog and want to leave a comment there, I’m coming into your home (digitally speaking), and the fact that I have to put my name on your blog is not unreasonable, especially if there are swarms of spambots who will take any chance to get their foot in the door of your place. But Twitter is not the same as that. By following your Twitter I’m not coming into your home. I’m tuning into your channel. I’m not putting you out at all. You lose absolutely nothing.

But by using TrueTwit–by putting that e-thug at the point of your first connection with your followers–you’ve lost everything you could have gained from me. And it’s so pointless. You probably think, “Jeez, why is he so hot and bothered by just clicking one little link?” It’s not the link. It’s the principle. If you understand this, you will take a much larger step into the world of social media.

I hope this doesn’t strike you as too harsh. It needed to be said. I’m sure you’re a great writer and I wish you the best. But please…please…get rid of TrueTwit. If a spambot follows you and starts tweeting you annoying links, block them. Or, if you’re really paranoid about being followed by spambots, go through your followers list, click on the suspicious profiles and block them prospectively. But fire the bouncer. The first voice your readers should hear–the first face they see on your channel–should be yours, and it should be a welcoming one.

Thanks for reading.

43 comments on “The Tragedy of TrueTwit.

  1. The Locke
    January 30, 2013

    Don’t use TrueTwit. Got it.

  2. Pingback: Sean’s Twitter Primer for Authors…And Readers, Part I: Following and Followers. | www.seanmunger.com

  3. Well written, well-stated and well done. Bravo.

  4. Pingback: The Tragedy of TrueTwit. | Pete Ashton

  5. Agree completely. I have unfollowed a couple people over it.

    • seanmunger
      June 7, 2013

      TrueTwit is highly problematic on a number of levels. Most of the people who use it don’t appreciate the degree to which it’s off-putting and hostile. Also, most of them don’t understand that it doesn’t really help them, nor does it provide a useful service to them–it’s a platform chiefly for third-party advertising, which is a fact TrueTwit does not disclose to its own users.

      Here’s how it works. If an unsuspecting spam DM recipient is brave enough to “click here to validate,” they go to a page with a captcha that also displays advertising. In fact the solution to the captcha puzzle is usually a slogan drawn from the displayed ad. Turbo Tax, for instance, is one of the advertisers who is (or at least was) paying for the privilege of having innocent people recite their slogan to a bot for the “privilege” of following whatever green-behind-the-ears Twitter user signed up for TrueTwit and thus subjected his/her followers to this ordeal, most likely without understanding the implications of it.

      Thus, the true customers of TrueTwit are not the users who are sending us spam DMs, but the advertisers who are paying to get their product in front of others–and harming their own brand irreparably in the process.

      This isn’t just my opinion, either. Google “TrueTwit” and see the kind of reviews they get. The TrueTwit company astro-turfs their own reviews to keep bad reviews off the front page of Alexa.com, but click to page 2 and you’ll get the real story.

      I’m not aware of a single experienced Twitter user who uses TrueTwit. Most serious Twitter users who are seduced by it “grow out of it” when they realizes it hampers their ability to get followers. I am also not aware of a single reputable social media expert who would recommend that people use it, if for no other reason than the fact it doesn’t work. TrueTwit’s PR is virtually radioactive in the social media world. Many experienced social media watchers are stunned that they’re even still in business.

  6. NoNo News (@NoNoNews1)
    June 11, 2013

    Our team all HATES it. So far the experience has been bad. It’s the favorite of spammers. We’re just hoping they’re not using lack of response to validation requests to decide if YOU’RE a spammer! “TrueTwit” is for true twits!

  7. Truetwit message is first in my email filters, end to trash they don’t want to know me.

  8. doros ,fatawi
    July 4, 2013

    I all the time emailed this website post page to all my associates, because if like to read it after that my contacts will too.

  9. Dianne
    July 12, 2013

    Very very true! I have received it twice and ignored it. If they don’t want my follow then they don’t have to have it.

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  11. Sissi
    July 21, 2013

    Thank you for this great letter! This is so nicely written, I had to laugh and smile! Never heard of truetwit until I got today just that message and googled it. I thought it might be a scam! Thx for telling this in such a elegant way!

  12. Boris
    July 26, 2013

    When i see a truetwit validation request in my DM the only thing i do is unfollow and block, every time without fail. TrueTwit really means this ….. I’m a fool, too lazy or useless to be taken seriously. Hence the Block…. love it!

  13. Mike Smith
    September 2, 2013

    You have a point with this. I followed someon on twitter and got this (and persisted, and got their free premium for a week special. But I think I’ll unsub from it.

    • seanmunger
      September 3, 2013

      Definitely unsubscribe. Many people (including me) immediately unfollow and block people who send them TrueTwit messages, so continued use of TrueTwit will hamper your ability to gain new followers.

  14. Pingback: 9 Things Authors Should Never Do on Twitter | www.seanmunger.com

  15. Savvy Schmidt (@SchmidtTalker)
    September 20, 2013

    Really great article! :)

  16. Tammy J Rizzo
    September 28, 2013

    I’d never heard of TrueTwit until I got a DM from someone saying they use it. DM went to the trash. I didn’t think to unfollow and block the person who sent it, and don’t remember who it was. Oh, well. I know better for the next time, I suppose. Could we report TrueTwitters as spammers, i wonder?

    • seanmunger
      September 28, 2013

      Some folks do report TrueTwit users for spam. Not sure what good it does. I follow a lot of people, so I block anyone who sends me a TrueTwit DM just out of logistics–to make sure that I don’t follow them again weeks or months down the road.

      • hcirnerual
        November 29, 2013

        What if the user (such as myself) were to stop using TrueTwit? Are they just screwed? You’ll never follow?

      • seanmunger
        November 29, 2013

        As I said, I block people who have sent me TrueTwit DM’s to prevent myself from “re-following” them in the future and getting another TrueTwit message. If I followed them once, that means I clicked on their profile, liked what they were saying and clicked the follow button. Thus, it’s entirely likely that it could happen again if I encounter them after some time has passed. If I’ve blocked that person I have no way of knowing if they happen to abandon TrueTwit in the future. I don’t generally revisit blocked users. This is one of the pernicious aspects of TrueTwit–you have no way of knowing whether someone uses the service until and unless you follow them and get the spam DM. It would be great if there was some other indication on their profile or whatever that they use TrueTwit before you choose to follow them, but aside from someone stating in their profile “I use TrueTwit” (which to my recollection has never happened) then there’s no way to know.

  17. Ross G. Homer
    November 25, 2013

    This is a real shame because I have several ‘followers’ who’ve tried to run this one in on me. Some of these people look damn interesting as do their books. But nope. Ain’t doin’ that. I posted this on my Twitter page as well. To quote Linda Ellerbee, “and so it goes.”

  18. hcirnerual
    November 29, 2013

    Thanks for the info. I shared this on twitter, indicating that I’d forgotten that I’d even signed up for true twit — which is true. I signed up for it during the depths of my darkest depression, when I was decidedly suspicious and not in my right mind. I agree that it does more harm than good. Spreading the word.

    • seanmunger
      November 29, 2013

      Thanks! Glad you’re spreading the word.

  19. Blake Stevens
    December 11, 2013

    I have just run into this today and it is horrid. Researched and have the same conclusions you have. I am posted a link to your great blog post. Thanks.

  20. Pingback: My 10 favorite articles of 2013 (Part II): Women of horror, celeb endorsement, TrueTwit follies and sultry jazz. | www.seanmunger.com

  21. Vernon Swanepoel (@Namibnat)
    January 12, 2014

    I totally, totally agree with you. Twitter itself should link to your post when people sign up their accounts.

  22. andy
    January 13, 2014

    Great article! I just block anyone who sends me a TrueTwit DM. Simple

  23. nynotaryforyou
    February 15, 2014

    It took a whirl before I got a twit validation & I found article/post right on. Thanks Alan.

  24. herlifehiscommission
    February 26, 2014

    Just got one of these, and yep, you pretty much summed up my reaction. Thanks for the article.

  25. theoriginalmrseb
    April 21, 2014

    Cheers for writing this, I was trying to follow a fantasy author, but he sent me a True Twit validation. Glad I looked around before filling the form.

  26. Pingback: “Charles Dickens’s” toxic auto-tweets: a cautionary tale for authors on Twitter. | www.seanmunger.com

  27. I have just sent your article to someone who requested my validating, BACK IN THEIR FACE! TrueTwit is hostile and arrogant and belittling and stupid. I hate it. But thank you for having put the case against it so eloquently; I am just a raging ball of fur.

  28. Tom
    May 1, 2014

    I just received my first TrueTwit validation and felt exactly the same as you – which is probably why your article came top of my Google search… I simply don’t see the point of joining a social network to start a conversation and then slapping people in the face as soon as they approach you!

  29. Pingback: Death to the boring author website: long live the Revolution! | www.seanmunger.com

  30. Martin Webster
    July 12, 2014

    But they still fill my inbox with their TrueTwit spam messages when all I want to do is follow. How stupid is this?

  31. Pingback: Five Reasons You Shouldn't Use TrueTwit & How to Quit - CodeGurlCodeGurl

  32. TravelDrinkDine
    July 24, 2014

    I”m fairly new to Twitter and I just got my first automated TrueTwit message land in my inbox and then 5 minutes later I got a second one! Both were photographers I wanted to follow. I had no idea what it was and googled and found your blog article. You pretty much summed up my thoughts on this and gee if they are worried about spam why are they using a spam service. What’s worse is the service doesn’t even say “Thanks for following” or “Welcome”. Yep they both lost me.

  33. Joseph
    July 30, 2014

    You forgot to mention or you were unaware that when TrueTwit DM’s a potential follower and said follower complies and validates, Truetwit then leaves cookies in your computer. They have no reason to do that because your asked to validate each time a different truetwit user sends out a DM. The first time that you are validated should be the last time and any subsequent requests should have the next truetwit user get a message advising them that this account has already been validated, you would think that should happen since they leave cookies. So let me say I am alleging that truetwit is spamming you, I deleted all the truetwit cookies in my computer, then I posted in my bio No To TrueTwit. I allege it to be a scam, and I am filing a formal complaint against them with Twitter. I also think when you reach out to follow an account and instead of receiving a thank you, the first thing they send back to you is I think your a spammer validate yourself. I say to myself how insulting so #$%^ you and I automatically unfollow. I am also trying to develop an app that will automatically unfollow any account that sends you that stupid insult.

  34. WritePath Consulting
    August 1, 2014

    I recommend it to NONE of my clients. I often get asked about it, and I tell people straight up: Each social media account is like your storefront door. Why would you want to use a service that keeps that door slammed shut in the faces of your potential customers and colleagues?

    Don’t be TrueTwit! :D

  35. marshallkirkpatrick
    August 5, 2014

    Long post! Overkill! ;) I like truetwit cause it’s a sign someone is a true twit and doesn’t know what they’re doing. Then I never give them another moment’s thought. My condolences for the lost minutes you spent writing all this :(

  36. Keith Dixon
    August 19, 2014

    Okay, thanks for the message. I unTrueTwitted. So you’re now free to follow me @keithyd6 … ;)

  37. Pingback: 9 Things Authors Should Never Do on Twitter | Savvy Writers & e-Books online

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