Minnesota Public Radio vs Twitter Account Squatter

Someone set up a Twitter account called @MPRmn and automated the posting of items from Minnesota Public Radio‘s RSS feed to Twitter with Twitterfeed. MPR made a good faith effort to contact the individual and when that didn’t work they went to Twitter management and asked if they could get in touch with the account holder. Twitter management talked to the account holder. Now MPR has the name @MPRmn; the original account holder has the account (with all the followers) and a different screen name (@MPRmnfan). MPR never talked directly to the previous account holder.

So now @MPRmnfan is accusing MPR of bullying.

Minnesota Public Radio contacted Twitter to stop these updates. Apparently MPR does not value the Twitter community. 10:59 PM August 23, 2008 from web

Several people have commented on how valuable this service is. I expect legal threats from large corporations, not MPR. 10:59 PM August 23, 2008 from web

It’s unfortunate that Minnesota *PUBLIC* Radio does not want to make their news public, and that this service has to go. 11:03 PM August 23, 2008 from web

Instead, people who have been following @MPRmn will now likely get a human with a bias filtering the news articles linked on Twitter. 11:04 PM August 23, 2008 from web

No more news updates will come from this account. Direct your complaints about MPR’s abusive bullying to @bcollinsmn now @N614EF. 1 day ago from web

According to MPR’s Interactive Producer Julia Schrenkler:

@pfhyper yep, fed by MPR directly now. we tried to contact the person who set it up but there was no info. @ replies will be seen by staff. about 4 hours ago from web

@taulpaul threat? no. MPR tried to contact him/her, couldn’t, no contact info/transparency. @MPRmn reassigned to MPR by Twitter, by req. about 3 hours ago from web

@taulpaul it seems Twitter reassigns the name and lets the old acct holder pick a new name on that acct, retaining the followers etc about 3 hours ago from web

@taulpaul tried to contact to ask for acct access via twitterfeed/twitter. not sure what language Twitter used when they contacted him/her about 2 hours ago from web

Hoo, boy, where to begin?

#1: @MPRmnfan’s righteous indignation over MPR’s thwarting of the “public service” they were supposedly providing is laughable. They are not providing any information that is not already available on MPR’s website. The accusations that MPR is trying to keep information from the public eye, that MPR is biased, and that MPR doesn’t value the Twitter community are just ludicrous. (Okay, you could argue MPR has bias, but it’s not on account of their Twitter policy.)

#2: Dumping an RSS feed into Twitter is not valuable. Period. (Unless you’re the Daily Planet and your RSS feeds are abominable.) Especially when an organization already has a pretty good Twitter presence, which MPR does. The whole point of having a Twitter presence as an organization is that there are people behind it. If I just want RSS, there are feedreaders and Cullect and Friendfeed and all sorts of aggregation tools for that. How is a human vetting which news stories from the website go to Twitter any more biased than what goes up on MPR’s website in the first place?

#3: MPR did not ask you to set up this account. You are squatting. You are using their name and logo. It’s in bad faith and in poor taste. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to request access to an account that has their name on it. It was nice of them to ask instead of just slapping you with a C&D.

#4: What does Bob Collins have to do with anything? Sure, dude is cranky, but how is that related to any of this?

@MPRmnfan’s rationale is beyond ridiculous and the response sounds like a temper tantrum at best.

This isn’t just about Twitter and what’s good and bad Twitter etiquette. It’s about misrepresenting yourself as part of an organization and then having the nerve to be indignant when they call you on it.

I wonder if they go through this exercise again with The Current’s Twitter accounts.

9 Comments so far

  1. Ed Kohler (edkohler) on August 25th, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

    Looks like 118 people disagree with Point #2. RSS via Twitter can definitely be valuable since if give you nearly instant access to headlines. And sometimes headlines are all you’re looking for.

    It’s interesting how this went down compared to CNN (a CNN controlled Twitter account) vs CNN Breaking (an outsider’s account). CNN breaking has WAY more followers than the actually CNN account but they coexist.


  2. Erica M (ericam) on August 25th, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

    Looks like 118 people disagree with Point #2. RSS via Twitter can definitely be valuable since if give you nearly instant access to headlines. And sometimes headlines are all you’re looking for. — I’ll file that under "I try not to tell people how to use Twitter, but this is the kind of thing that I will/won’t follow." ;-)

    CNN breaking has WAY more followers than the actually CNN account but they coexist. — If CNN has no issues with CNN Breaking as it exists, then that’s cool. But if CNN asked for it, I think it’d be some shit for the holder of CNN Breaking to accuse CNN of not valuing the Twitter community and being a bully, assuming CNN went about making the inquiry similarly to how MPR did it. Plus, @CNN and @cnnbrk are doing different things.


  3. bigboxcar on August 25th, 2008 @ 3:55 pm

    We’re in a somewhat similar boat with @minnpost, but I don’t really think someone is "squatting" — I figure it was a good samaritan who wanted MinnPost.com rss feeds updating on twitter.

    Interesting to see how twitter handled it. I have a similar support ticket in to them as well.

    We set up @minnpostnow to do alerts and add some personality (agree with Erica on that point.) But I’d like to get access to @minnpost just to ensure it continues to work! Not entirely sure if the person who set it up even checks on it. I have tried to send them @ reply, but did not hear back.


  4. bigboxcar on August 25th, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

    Good post, Erica M. Thanks for the backstory.

    edkohler, I agree with you, too. RSS feeds can be useful within twitter. Frequency of headline tweets tends to be the deal-breaker for me. But I say, do both with two different profiles. Let the user decide.


  5. Erica M (ericam) on August 25th, 2008 @ 4:09 pm

    Karl, I agree that whoever started it probably just wanted to see the feeds in Twitter. Based on what I learned when I asked the question about The Current’s Twitter accounts, and based on the @MPRmnfan’s response to MPR’s (and Twitter’s) request, I disagree it was a good samaritan effort.

    I just think it’s crap to put up a fight when the owner of the name and logo you’re using asks about it.

    FWIW, if all MPR is going to do is continue to dump the RSS feed into it, I’m still not going to follow @MPRmn.


  6. billhelm on August 25th, 2008 @ 4:29 pm

    I also think it’s a matter of personal preference – for me, feeds are best suited in a feed reader – unless they are something of an urgent and less frequent nature. For the same reason, I don’t follow twitter users that just basically repost links to their blog posts that I already get in a feed anyway.

    I suspect this is going to be a growing problem on Twitter – I follow a few sports twitters that pull info from the official feeds – wouldn’t take much for the owners to come in and shut that down.


  7. tipper on August 25th, 2008 @ 4:32 pm

    TWITTER DRAMA


  8. Ed Kohler (edkohler) on August 25th, 2008 @ 10:04 pm

    I wonder what MPR would do if someone took their news feed and distilled it down to a narrow topic such as "metrodome" using Yahoo Pipes, then posted that to Twitter using MPRMetrodome or something like that. Would they freak? That sort of thing is bound to happen.


  9. Erica M (ericam) on August 25th, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

    Let the countdown to @MPRMetrodome commence…



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