Yesterday I noticed something different in my Twitter stream using Hootsuite. I was seeing promoted ads. The first one I saw was for some mayonnaise, which kinda made sense because everyone knows I love a good BLT sandwich, but it was certainly not a welcome tweet. I was only slightly annoyed because, hey, Twitter spam is everywhere.

But only a short time later I saw another ad, and now I was more than slightly annoyed. And when I went to click on the user name to report and block them for spam, I found that Hootsuite didn’t show me the ‘Report Spammer’ link like they would for any other user account. If I wanted to block this account I needed to go to Twitter and do so. And while there I happened to notice a most peculiar thing:

The promoted ad wasn’t there.

So, while Hootsuite shows me a promoted ad, the Twitter web page doesn’t? Wait a minute, what is going on here?

It turns out that Hootsuite has partnered with an agency called 140Proof, who specializes in injecting targeted ads into my stream. And I’m not the only one who has noticed the ads appearing. Thanks to my friend Karen Lopez (blog | @datachick) leaving a comment in one of my rants on Google+ yesterday I was able to root around the intertubz to get more details. It would seem that Hootsuite has expanded their targeted ads from just their mobile client apps.

I have now hit my tipping point. I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore.

I am tired of being nickeled and dimed everywhere I go. Everyone wants me to give them a dollar or two and in exchange I get the privilege of seeing no ads. Even Hootsuite wanted me to know that I could have those ads turned off by using their Pro plan.

At the time I found that to be mildly offensive. I likened it to extortion, because that’s what extortion is: obtaining money or something of value as a result of abusing one’s power or authority. It’s no different than if some gangsters stopped by my house to collect some protection money. But it gets better, check out how Hootsuite tried to tell me that this wasn’t them (or 140Proof doing it for them), and that it was Twitter doing it.

That link they provided? It is Twitter explaining what promoted Tweets are. I went one step further and contacted Twitter (because Hootsuite suggested I do so) to help explain what happened in my Hootsuite stream. I know you may find this hard to believe, but the list of advertisers at this time doesn’t include mayonnaise. It is a short list, and condiments aren’t there yet, apparently. And that link tells me there are only four ways for me to even see an ad in my main Twitter stream, again confirmed by Twitter (whom I contacted because Hootsuite suggested I do so):

  1. I do a search.
  2. I follow the advertiser account.
  3. I see the promoted ad as a related tweet.
  4. I do a search for a promoted trend.

The ads I saw yesterday did not fall into one of those four. As much as I love me some bacon, I was not following @MiracleWhip on Twitter. Seriously, would anyone out there think I would even let that crap touch one of my BLT sandwiches? Unthinkable.

So, Hootsuite is injecting ads into my stream through their site, which is completely their right to do so. I will not argue that. But they are doing so in an effort to get me to pay. That’s extortion in my book. I won’t be paying Hootsuite anything, I will just stop using them.

And when the day comes (and I am sure it will) where Twitter itself heads down the path that Hootsuite has tried, then I will stop using them as well. I hear Google has something cool these days, I may just start hanging out there more often anyway.

Enjoy the shark you just jumped, Hootsuite.

[But for $5.99 a month I will take down this blog post so you don’t have to read it ever again and we can still be friends.]