HootSuite, ow.ly, and GetSatisfaction: unethical, spammy, and fraudulent activities

By , August 19, 2009

I’ve just added a filter to completely block ALL Twitter posts made via HootSuite. That means that I won’t see any “tweets” that anyone posts using the HootSuite tool.  My reasons:

  1. HootSuite configured its software so that after it’s installed or upgraded, it automatically sends out a post promoting the HootSuite software (over the signature of the account holder, but without their approval). A variety of different “reasons” are appended to these posts, some of them offensive.
  2. When HootSuite users post links, HootSuite converts them into “framed links.”  Thus, if someone links to MarkWelch.com, the link will be changed into an ow.ly link which, when clicked, does NOT redirect to the MarkWelch.com web site, but instead is displayed inside a frame that includes a header promoting HootSuite and ow.ly.
  3. HootSuite’s online feedback forms don’t work — the form redirects through GetSatisfaction.com (a sister company) and when you attempt to submit a comment, the GetSatisfaction system automatically informs you that your email address is already registered with the GetSatisfaction service, and you must go through the registration process to submit any feedback to HootSuite. (No, that doesn’t make any sense: if I’m already registered, why would I need to register? And no, I had never registered before — I used a unique email address in the contact form which had never been used before.)
  4. Added: A customer-support rep responded, claiming that the “auto-post” only happens with the user’s permission (but in order to install or upgrade, the user’s permission is “implied”).  He said that the framing of links is a “service” although in other messages he wrote that it was intended to “get the word out” about the company’s services (e.g. he admitted that it’s unauthorized advertising surrounding other people’s content).  In response to my “tweet,” the same customer-support rep later tweeted me (using a “mention”) claiming to have no idea what I was complaining about — again, this after he’d already seen and responded to my specific complaints.

The first two issues have been widely discussed (and condemned) online; since the company refuses to stop its unethical activity, I will simply refuse to view any Twitter posts submitted via HootSuite.

Don’t do business with this unethical company, and don’t use HootSuite, ow.ly, or GetSatisfaction.  Of course, since they don’t post any valid contact info (email, phone, etc.) you can’t even tell them why, unless you use their online feedback form which then forces you to “register” as a user of their GetSatisfaction service.  These are dishonest, unethical people.

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