Twitter: Autofollow ‘sends the wrong message’

no more autofollow on twitterJust got a mass e-mail from Biz Stone explaining why Twitter accounts with autofollow enabled (this was originally an option in user settings) will no longer be grandfathered in. And in fact, there will be no more autofollow accounts.

I’ve always been mixed on this, however, I now feel that it is in the service’s best interest to disallow autofollow’s across the board. Still this can be easily circumvented using other services, such as SocialToo, which accesses the Twitter API to enable auto-follows, and — much worse in my opinion — allow users to automatically send direct messages to new followers). There is even a website — http://www.twitterautofollow.com/ — devoted to listing accounts that had autofollow enabled.

Why does Twitter discourage autofollow?

“Namely, it is unlikely that anyone can actually read tweets from thousands of accounts which makes this activity disingenuous,” the letter reads. At the same time it is a mixed message to encourage the use of Twitter as a legitimate community-building tool, without making it easier for one to follow back followers. In the end, I grew very frustrated with the auto-follow concept, primarily due to the fact that a majority of new followers (on the @LiveEarth account that I administer) appeared to be complete fakes. Especially during the month that the account was featured as a suggested user.

I knew Twitter would disable autofollow soon enough. But the mildly defensive tone of the explanation was unexpected. What are your thoughts on Twitter etiquette?

Read the full text of the e-mail below:

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LA Times Announces Brand X Link Farm

ThisisBrandX.com way to go LA Times This is Brand XLaunch early and launch often.

But don’t let the cat out of the bag before you’ve got a basic index page, 404 or… anything but the de facto Register.com-branded ztomy.com-fueled link farm.

So when the LA Times announced a “new product launch” in an all-staff memo this afternoon (thx, Ed) it was disappointing to see that said product was nothing but a Register.com link farm. Not to mention, what the memo describes is merely a repackaging of the short-lived print edition of Metromix along with some “reverse-published” blog posts. Whatever that means. Perhaps it can only be read when held up to a mirror?

Times editor Russ Stanton had this to write about the so-horribly-named-it-makes-me-quiver ThisIsBrandX.com: “It’s content sharing on an extremely local level and will bring our great work to an audience that does not currently see it.”

I feel for my friends at the LA Times who do amazing work in spite of it all. But the news about newspapers these days just gets me depressed. And with a name like Brand X — which implies knock-off, pirated, counterfeit merchandise — I just hope that the bulk of the content isn’t produced in China.

And anyway… THIS is Brand X:

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