You almost have to admire the audacity of HootSuite.
The company has released a new version of their “Twitter toolbox” and many of their members are naturally upgrading.
So where’s the problem with that? Well, unfortunately HootSuite requires you to allow them to auto-tweet to your twitter stream in order to upgrade.
Update: HootSuite claims that users aren’t required to auto-tweet. Users who do not tweet will be automatically upgraded in “a couple of weeks” while users who do tweet are rewarded with an immediate upgrade. But, if you want to upgrade to the newest version today, you are in fact required to post a tweet as you can see in the screen shots below.
The result, as you can see for yourself is a massive number of tweets spamming… er promoting a link to HootSuite as well as the #HootSuite hashtag.
Now, I don’t have a problem with a little bit of self promotion or even trying to game your way onto the trending topics list. However, I DO have a problem with Twitter services automatically tweeting to their users’ accounts.
HootSuite Still Frame Jacking
Unfortunately our dear old HootSuite isn’t JUST spamming Twitter, They’re also still frame jacking other websites’ content via their URL”shortening” service, Owly.
Frame jacking, for those of you who haven’t heard the term before is when a site like Ow.ly places a frame around another website’s content. If you want to read why frame jacking is an all around sucky thing to do, you can do so here.
The point is, it’s still happening.
Invoke Media Lies
But why would I expect Owly to stop frame jacking and placing their ad/link on other people’s content? Well because Invoke Media (the company behind HootSuite & Owly) founder, Ryan Holmes promised to do exactly that in the comments on a TechCrunch post.
On April 15th Ryan stated:
“Great to see digg coming to this compromise. Ow.ly (hootsuite) will be implementing these same changes in an upcoming release.”
Which changes did Digg make that Ryan committed to? That only logged in users would see Ow.ly’s frame & other users would be redirected (via an SEO friendly 301 redirect) to the content’s source.
And, when I pressed them on this issue weeks later, I was told that:
“We’re close w/new release. Need to dot some i’s & test until it’s rock solid. Will be a bit still, but it’s on the way!”
Those must have been some REALLY big i’s to dot if it has taken them 3 months and counting to do it.
Update: As @redwall_hp points out, Ow.ly url’s do serve 301 redirects which solves the SEO issue. However, they still display the frame to users who are not logged in, which is precisely what Ryan stated they would change.
In that time though, HootSuite was able to upgrade their fittingly named “toolbox” to version 2.0 and require their users to spam Twitter in order to use it.
Now I’d fully expect Invoke Media to provide some sort of excuse if and when this post gains enough traction to elicit a response from them. But no matter what their excuse is, do you really want to be using a service that takes advantage of their users in this fashion?
More importantly, would you really want to do business with a company like Invoke Media that engages in these kinds of behavior?