Do you know how easy it is to make money on Twitter? I found out this morning when a bunch of pranksters turned me on to a service called Pay4Tweet that they'd used to Tweet disgusting pictures to hundreds of thousands of people. I signed up — and made 70 bucks while people Tweeted "fuck you" to my boss.
I heard about Pay4Tweet thanks to TwitCrew, whom we wrote about last month when they made Scott Baio go ballistic by incessantly asking him about diapers. Last night, a handful of them (@Boring_as_heck, @ABigBagOfKeys and @RonPaulVEVO, among others) discovered Pay4Tweet and the long list of accounts it was selling on a per-Tweet basis.
Pay4Tweet, as advertising-on-twitter sites go, is pretty shady. The accounts are the kind of bottom-of-the-barrel, banal-quote-scraping that tends to get high follower counts on Twitter: @RelatableQuote, which advertises itself as "Tweets that Relate to your daily life" (sample: "I get jealous but that's only because I care."), has 838,703 followers; you can buy one of its tweets for $5,000. @KattWillliams, a "parody" Twitter account for comedian Katt Williams (sample: "Do gay midgets come out of the cabinet?"), has 190,272 followers; last night, "authentic" "Katt Willliams" Tweets were going for $5.
Even shadier (for publishers), the service won't censor or stop advertisers from posting anything they want. "Once you've provided permission and a price," its FAQ reads, "an advertiser has control over the content they will use to drive new business to their web site.
But all the transactions are conducted through PayPal, so the risk of losing money is fairly low, and that hands-off sketchiness makes Pay4Tweet a perfect service for pranksters. Like TwitCrew, who, on finding the site, almost immediately began to Tweet gross pictures. @KattWillliams shared the infamous "goatse" picture. @iRespectFemales, a popular target for TwitCrew, introduced all of his followers to Pig Poop Balls (a gross picture you can see here, along with a short explanatory interview about last night's pranks), as did rapper Tyga "fan page" @TYGA_YMCMB.
So, of course, I had to sign up. To sell my Tweets. Here is my story.
Even after I finished, semi-innocuous "parody" and "quote" accounts continued Tweeting gross pictures and weird messages well into Friday afternoon. A new account — @BestOfPay4Tweet — was created to archive the best.
And the thing is, barring huge price rises, this could last forever. As far as I can tell, Pay4Tweet is technically within the bounds of Twitter's "rules," which don't specifically prohibit the selling of individual Tweets. ("Sponsored Tweets" are the less sketchy way of doing this.) But Twitter gives itself a lot of leeway with those rules, and a lot of the accounts signed up for Pay4Tweet — like "KattWillliams" and "MrWizKalfia" — are already on thin ice, and manage to avoid being suspended for impersonation only by describing themselves as "parody" accounts; enough gross pictures Tweeted and the accountholders are likely to turn off Pay4Tweet, or get suspended by Twitter.
But as a business, Pay4Tweet more or less "works." You can even "return" your Tweet: If the Twitter user deletes the Tweet you bought, filing a complaint with PayPal will return your money to you; "Katt Willliams" was forced to return some money that way to @VirgilTexas. (I emailed the address associated with the Katt Willliams parody but haven't received a response.) You could do a lot worse. Just be aware that your friends might get you fired.