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Tweet from pal or sales pitch?

Tweeters take note: If your friends have been tweeting about Skype, aniPod or Cisco cellphones lately, they might not be doing it becausethey’re concerned consumers.

Tweeters take note: If your friends have been tweeting about Skype, an iPod or Cisco cellphones lately, they might not be doing it because they’re concerned consumers.

A service called Magpie is recruiting Twitter users to let advertisers send out messages through their accounts for cash.

Rapidly growing social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook make advertisers salivate because of the wealth of personal data they accumulate.

Facebook is already making money by turning users’ profile information into a massive marketing survey and letting companies use it to create individually tailored ads.

With vast and growing armies of twitterers — and Twitter’s increasing importance as a professional networking tool — there is a concern about the transparency of what’s being peddled by sponsors rather than users.

Magpie is not affiliated with Twitter. But Marshall Kirkpatrick, the head writer for the tech blog ReadWriteWeb, said the way Magpie is using the site to make money shows the potential for social media to take its business model in a disturbing direction.

Online ads are nothing new, but the difference is disclosure. There’s a “presumption of authentic voice” in Twitter messages, said Kirkpatrick.

 
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