I first saw tweet
“I lack real connection with real people. My community. From now on you can just write to me. I can't answer everyone, but at least we can be real with each other, and I can share the unedited latest and best in my world, ”wrote Ashton Kutcher, a supporter of the world of celebrities and technology, on Tuesday afternoon. And then he published his phone number: 10 digits, which promised much more.
I threw the link in Slack, and then did it. I wrote Ashton Kutcher.
“Hi, Ashton Kutcher (or the person who hacked his Twitter account)” – look, I might have thrown words into the void, but I didn’t want to watch gullible“My name is Caitlin Kelly, I am a journalist in Wired magazine. Hope everything goes well! We, Wired employees, are interested in: how many texts did you receive after the publication of this number on the Internet? And if it is convenient for you to share: approximately what percentage of them contained obscene photos and / or sentences? Thank. And then I prepared to wait.
I shouldn't have. I immediately received a response.
“Hi, this is Ashton. This is an autotext so you know that I received your message, everything else will be from me. make sure you click the link and add yourself to my phone so I can answer you. ” This weird headline was followed by the URL: in.community.com/lotsofrandomnumbers.
What to expect?
“Ashton …” I wrote back. “Are you launching a social networking platform or phishing scam?”
Unfortunately, the first seems closer to what is happening.
Having met the silence this time, I carefully threw the wind and clicked on the link. This led me to the registration screen – “powered by the community”, which was read below – confirming my phone number and asking for my name, birthday, city, as usual. Now the Community.com homepage is currently useless if you want to learn anything other than what the word looks like without serif. But the Terms of Service more clearly show that the Community “provides its customers (including influential individuals, musicians, athletes, brands, actors, their agents and others, in aggregate,“ Clients ”) through a non-exclusive revocable license to send and receive text messages from users of the Service, using a ten-digit phone number provided by COMMUNITY ("Telephone Number COMMUNITY") ".
TOS also told me: “You understand and acknowledge that conversations using the Service are not private conversations with Clients, but are intended to send messages and interact solely for the purpose of promoting and / or advertising the Client, as well as the products and services of the Client.”
It turns out that Community is a new name for Shimmur, Inc., which was launched in 2014 to unite celebrities in social networks with its fans. After downloading the Shimmur application, users can find their favorite stars YouTubers and Instagram, join their “tribes” and create publications intended for this particular influential person (hereinafter referred to as the “Tribal Leader”). Then, according to Shimmoor's frequently asked questions, “The Leader of the Tribe will see the MOST WRITTEN posts in his FIRST Tribe – so the more votes your post gets, the higher the chance your favorite star will answer!”
In other words, if Reddit and the most eager Instagram comment had a child, it might look like Shimmoor; Forbes In June 2017, the author described her as a “Gen-Z oriented media company.” According to Crunchbase, Shimmur collected $ 100,000 for three rounds, but the application is no longer available for download. His Twitter feed and the Squarespace blog have not been updated since 2017. Shimmur.com now redirects to digits.chat, something in a private beta. Between this and the Community, it looks like a pivot for SMS.
Matthew Peltier is co-founder of Shimmur (until November 2018), as well as the founder and CEO of the community (as of December 2018) on LinkedIn. I contacted Peltier for more information about his company and Kutcher’s involvement with LinkedIn and email, but I didn’t get an answer right away.
Obviously, I should have known better when I wrote Ashton Kutcher. “My community” in itself should have warned me – and not a sign of the importance of the community to Ashton, that the “Community” with the capital letter “C” carries the smell of a trademark. Well, yes, well, looking back, I should have been skeptical that a celebrity with a net worth of $ 200 million would simply send his personal Twitter account to 18 million followers. In my defense, however, private messaging returns as noted by Loren Hood from WIRED earlier this week. Faced with the wild nature of our howling channels, people seek refuge in the warm pyres of group chats and private brands. And if some Hollywood celebrity wanted to do it nationwide, why not the guy who played Kelso on This is a 70s show.?
But for the same reasons, the text is potentially valuable real estate for brands, politicians, spammers, and anyone who really wants you to hear. And apparently this includes Ashton Kutcher.
At the time of this writing, no one answered me about how many messages the masses wrote to Ashton Kutcher. That leaves me no choice but to assume that it was so many people that it destroyed the entire system. Three hours after he shared his Twitter number, Ashton Kutcher received an update. He removed his original tweet by sharing his phone number. "I will make a repost soon," he chirped(Rewrite what? His number? Why did he do this to us?) "SMS is a fragile beast."