Jack Dorsey, like many other billionaires (millionaires?), is a man of particular interests. He's professed to loving meditation, Lauryn Hill, and the Taoist wisdom of Tao te Ching. (Who doesn't?) But, if you've ever taken a glance at his Twitter account, it's easy see that what he's really passionate about is hip-hop.
So I'd imagine a public diss from a famous rapper would be something of a personal nightmare for him, but that's exactly what happened today.
According to an accusatory tweet from Azealia Banks, she and Dorsey allegedly came to some agreement that if she encouraged her 551,000 followers to download the Square Cash app, in return, he would tweet something to his 3.52 million followers about a mixtape she released back in 2015.
Jack Dorsey asked me to tweet about his cash app and in exchange he was supposed to tweet about my mixtape. he never did.
AZEALIABANKSApril 13, 2016
Here's the Square Cash tweet from Banks that suggests she kept up her end of the bargain:
This seems… weird. It's true that deals between publishing or media entities to swap content or do each other reciprocal solids isn't a new strategy. In fact, that type of thing is a pretty universal tenet of online advertising.
But what's unusual is the co-founder and CEO of a tech company allegedly offering up his personal #brand endorsement in exchange for a tweet plugging his company's then-new app.
Traditionally, when companies endorse another party's content or product, that sponsorship should be called out as such. So, for example, when the AP promotes a brand or service on Twitter, those tweets are labeled as "ad" or "advertisement." Media and news sites are often criticized for failing to adequately delineate native advertising from editorial content.
The FTC has even ruled that product placement and endorsement, in exchange for some value, must be disclosed in a clear and conspicuous way on websites, videos, and on-air. These legal guidelines also extend to Twitter, even though FTC action over the misuse of social media advertising has been rare.
According to FTC guidelines: "The words 'Sponsored' and 'Promotion' use only 9 characters. 'Paid ad' only uses 7 characters. Starting a tweet with 'Ad:' or '#ad'—which takes only 3 characters—would likely be effective."
There's no way to know if Dorsey's tweet would have had the required #ad disclosure, since he didn't make one, but Banks neglected to do so on her tweet.
There aren't many tech CEOs who have Dorsey's level of celebrity, and it's hard to imagine the ones who do peddling Twitter-swaps. Would Elon Musk tweet about a mixtape in exchange for a tweet about Tesla?
Maybe all of these tech celebs are bartering for tweets behind the scenes, who knows.
Regardless, as the artist also alleged, Dorsey doesn't appear to have tweeted about her mixtape. I searched all of Dorsey's tweets that mentioned Banks and found only one mentioning her or her work:
Here is a list of a few things the tech icon did tweet about, instead of Banks' new mixtape.
Rapper who is not Azealia Banks, Kanye West:
There's a massive rainbow over SF right now!
JackMarch 22, 2016
Again, Kanye West:
Pigeons wearing tiny backpacks:
enjoying the cozy solitude of my computerless apartment, where the books are organized by the color of their spines.
JackApril 13, 2006
His sleep schedule. Eight hours per night!
So much Kanye!
So, if Banks' accusation is true, it would seem that Dorsey did, indeed, cheat the rapper out of a tweet. I reached out to Twitter and Square for more information regarding the promotional agreement and received the following Shia Labeouf GIF from a Twitter spokesperson.
A spokesperson for Square also responded with a GIF.