Don’t abuse the sacred social authorisation trust

You may have spotted this story back in October about this year’s New York Comic Con posting positive Twitter messages on behalf of people who’d authorised access to their account when activating their RFID-enabled badge.

Looking at the comments underneath you can see that opinion is mixed on whether or not people should be a little miffed that a brand has done this despite them giving the green light to do so. Personally, I am of the opinion that this is never acceptable – regardless of what users have supposedly agreed to.

Firstly, no social user I have ever met would actually expect a brand to post messages into their timeline – or to their Facebook wall, or send messages to their LinkedIn connections – on their behalf. I might expect a brand to use a pop-up to suggest a message I then physically post myself, but never to just automatically do it. Secondly, this type of behaviour spreads more fear and misinformation about social media privacy and control, making new users even more suspicious then they already are. And thirdly it destroys the trust between the brand and their community.

I know that there is huge temptation within companies to take this authorisation and run with it – ‘we want to get our positive messages out there and our community have told us we can use their accounts to do it, result!’, but it is an incredibly invasive practice.  What we as brands have to realise is that we are no longer the only ones who can spread information about ourselves, our communities can too. And we have to earn that positive response, not expect that it’s OK to spread those messages for them despite what their interaction with our social APIs tells us on the surface.


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