Imogen Donovan by on Aug 13, 2019

Ninja won’t text you back in weird data-harvesting marketing scheme

Fortnite streamer Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins revealed his phone number to the world on Twitter, promising to personally respond and chat to fans, but it turned out to be a weird data-harvesting marketing scheme (via Polygon).

In the video announcement, Ninja asked fans to send a text to the number and fill in a form with their information so they could chat, send them photos and videos of behind the scenes content, and puppy pictures. He promised to group up with fans to play Fortnite later on in the week, but if you’re a lady, you’ll probably be out of luck.

Hang on. ‘Via Community’? Reviewing the company’s Terms of Use, Community will be able to impersonate Ninja through these messages. The statement read, ‘additionally, you understand that a message sent by a Client may appear to come from a celebrity or other famous individual or influencer but may actually be sent to on his/her behalf by the public relations or other social media representatives.’

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Ninja’s fanbase, of whom a lot are young children and pre-teenagers, won’t necessarily understand that. The Terms of Use also disclose that the messages are generalised, and are for promotion or advertising of the Ninja brand. So it’s not actually him, but it is a bit of irreverent fun as long as the fan is aware. 

Again, that’s not quite true either. Community’s Privacy Policy revealed that, along with the names, cities and emails given to it by fans, it will collect the device’s IP address, browser selection, device type, and its location. It doesn’t state what it intends to do with this information, which is slightly sketchy. 

It’s possible that Ninja is attempting to snag the stragglers who haven’t followed him over to Mixer with this scheme, but given how young some of his fans are, it’s disappointing that he hasn’t been transparent about it. Having said that, he posted that he has sent personal videos to everyone who has texted him; a mean feat as the original announcement video has 2.1 million views. At least people will know what they’re getting into, now that information about Community’s Terms of Use has been circulated more widely. 
 

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