Web Superhero Lobbies Against Persistent Auto-DM Abuse

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A web content vigilante spearheads a campaign to end auto-DM abuse on Twitter, and officially declares May 2011 ‘Anti-Auto-DM Month’.

Web superhero Opticon lobbies against auto-DM abuse on Twitter.

A web content vigilante known simply as Opticon is spearheading a campaign to end auto-DM abuse on Twitter, and is officially naming May 2011 Anti-Auto-DM Month. He is asking people to sign a petition, to be sent to SocialOomph owner Dewald Pretorius in hopes he will consider disabling the function offered by the social media service provider.

The petition will also be sent to Twitter headquarters, since they have the power to ban certain abusive third-party Twitter functions, as they have done in the past.

SocialOomph’s auto-DM function, which costs $3.47 per month, allows people to send automated direct messages to new followers. Many abuse this function and use it to send impersonal spam encouraging new followers to check out links to their websites, often promoting get-rich-quick schemes.

Pretorius addressed the outrage associated with auto-DMs on the SocialOomph blog, stating:

“Folks, whether you like auto DMs or not, they are going to be around. There is nothing evil about a DM that is sent by automated means on behalf of and on the explicit instruction of a Twitter user.”

No doubt due to the backlash, SocialOomph added a page to its website specifically for people looking to opt out of receiving auto-DMs __title__ Opt out of auto DMs. Opticon believes this is an unnecessary inconvenience on the innocent recipient. He also commented on Pretorius’ blog post asking for proof of the function’s value. The comment remained unapproved at press time.

SocialToo, a SocialOomph competitor, disabled its auto-DM service in February of 2009, with CEO Jesse Stay telling ReadWriteWeb:

"Based on my statistics, while a small percent of you are using auto-DMs for legitimate business reasons (for instance, sending instructions to followers if you are doing an online promotion that includes following the Twitter user as part of the promotion), over one-third of you sending automated DMs have some sort of URL in your message to followers. The remaining majority is just sending simple thank you's, which while I think are truly genuine, are now being ignored by most people that receive them."

If you agree that auto-DMs should be disabled and that it shouldn’t be your responsibility to opt out, here’s what you can do to support this campaign:

  •     SIGN THIS PETITION addressed to Dewald Pretorius to disable the auto-DM function
  •     Share the petition on Facebook and Twitter and encourage friends who agree to sign and spread the word
  •     Send your thoughts to Dewald Pretorius directly through Twitter @dewaldp, and use hashtag #endautodms
  •     Send your thoughts to @Twitter and use hashtag #endautodms
  •     Learn more about Anti-Auto-DM Month, beginning May 1, 2011

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