Telstra blames Spam Act for impersonal Tweets

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Telstra blames Spam Act for impersonal Tweets

Telstra has hit back at claims its BigPond Twitter support feed is bot-like, arguing that personalising the messages would contravene the Spam Act.

The ISP posted a lengthy response to criticism from social media experts yesterday in which it promised, among other measures, to make ‘the tone of our communications more conversational by removing the (registered) trademarks and making the tone of our introduction tweets less robotic like.’

However, it blamed the current lack of personalisation on internal fears that the tweets could be viewed by customers as ‘commercial electronic messages’ sent without consent, amounting ‘to a violation of the Spam Act 2003’, according to Telstra consultant and blogger Mike Hickinbotham.

“Our approach is to be pro-active and ask customers with a service/technical issue online whether they require support. But to be pro-active means we need to make contact with the customer, and this is where it gets complicated,” Hickinbotham said.

“Since the early stages of development, BigPond’s primary concern has been protecting the customer’s privacy. We want to ensure that our communications to customers are not commercial electronic messages.

“Since Twitter was introduced post-2003 and we are the first cab off the rank, a cautious approach, limiting the potential risk is considered the best approach. When a customer responds to our introductory message, we have more flexibility to use a conversational tone,” Hickinbotham said.

The response was met with cautious optimism from social media commentators.

Hickinbotham also acknowledged that the service would be subject to a process of ‘continuous improvement’.

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