Is Microsoft Censoring Windows 7 Tweets?

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Intrigued to see that Microsoft has turned a page of its website over to “What people are saying about Windows 7”:

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The page is designed a bit like twittefall: a cascade of seeminlgy “live” tweets (their dates and times of posting cleverly removed from the cascade.)

Amazingly, 99% of the comments are positive, or at least neutral:

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So I thought I would check to see whether the feed has some filtering. The feed seems to include comments going back several days (the one above is six days old), so I thought it fair to search over that same period. A more nuanced picture emerges. “Windows7 sucks,” for example, throws up at least 20 tweets in the past week, none of them visible in the cascade.

So clearly some sort of filtering is going on. To check I sent out this faux tweet from an unused account and haven’t, 30 minutes on, seen anything:

#windows7 win7 is a disaster. uninstalling it right now

As Lydia Pintscher points out at Amarok Blog, this filtering and pseudo-conversation is all quite unnecessary. It’s clear the majority of people actually quite like Windows 7 (though I’d be interested in their reactions in a few months; my experience down the track has been less impressive.)

The point is that Microsoft would be foolish to allow an unfettered feed—people would quickly cotton on and put all sorts of rubbish in there.

But if it tries to pretend that the page is somehow live, and that it’s a conversation, then they also need to be smarter about reflecting the full range of views out there.

They also need to understand the organic nature of hashtags. The Microsoft website asks users to “join the conversation” by including hashtags #win7 or #windows7 in their tweets—which many were already doing, it’s an obvious step to make—but they also asked those who had bought Windows 7 to include the hashtag #igotwin7.

So far, the number of people who have is, er, two; one of them is Microsoft itself:

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Social media lesson #4: You can start a conversation but you can’t control it. Try and you look silly. 

09. November 2009 by jeremy
Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 comments

Comments (4)

  1. There’s another reason to filter or “censor” – removing all the spam that gets sent with popular hashtags. That’s good enough reason in itself to add some filtering, though I guess they could have just automated filtering posts with urls in to hide most of the spam.

  2. Alice, good point. I can well understand that they’d need to filter out irrelevant or offensive stuff. But by cherry picking only the positive stuff they misrepresent the very social space they’re trying to be a part of.

  3. Thanks Jeremy. Well put and thanks for the link.
    Your rule #4 should actually be #1 😉 It is sooo important and often not understood.

  4. Lydia, you’re welcome. From Lydia’s blog pos t (http://blog.lydiapintscher.de/2009/11/08/what-people-are-really-saying-about-windows-7) a link to the Windows marketing team behind the page (http://www.marty-collins.com/windows7-is-here-tell-us-what-you-think/) which states:

    That doesn’t mean we’ll only include the good stuff and take out the bad. If there’s content that helps people get fair information about Windows 7, we’ll include it- even if it doesn’t put Windows 7 in the best light. We are focused on authentic, relevant information for customers.

    The language there is careful, but revealing. In other words, we’ll include all nakedly glowing comments on Windows 7 (even if they’re not useful to the reader) but we’ll weed out negative stuff if it doesn’t give ‘fair information’.

    It’s called skewing a conversation and it betrays a remarkable lack of understanding (or wilful manipulation) of social media. And the post itself is titled ‘Windows7 is here – tell us what you think!’