Twitter shaming: There's no app for that

App maker Enfour tried to embarrass users who'd pirated its pricey dictionary programs, but ended up humiliating itself

As regular readers will attest, I'm kind of a connoisseur of stupid ideas, especially stupid ideas generated by technology companies. It keeps me pretty busy. But I gotta say, this one from an app maker named Enfour is one of the most brain-dead ideas of all time.

First, some background: Japan-based Enfour makes mobile dictionary apps, some of which cost as much as $55. (That must be one heck of a dictionary, with lots of very big words in it.) Apparently, mobile dictionaries are highly prized by software pirates. Given that Enfour wants 55 simoleons for them, I don't doubt it.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Cringely chronicles another hostile tech takeover in "Amazon's DRM drama: Whose Kindle is it anyway?" | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]

In fact, according to Enfour, only one out of 100 copies of its dictionaries out in the wild are legit -- the 99 others are all pirated. Elsewhere Enfour says three out of four copies are bogus, so the truth is somewhere between those two numbers. Still, you can see where software piracy might leave the company a little peeved.

Enfour's solution? To shame the pirates by secretly logging onto their Twitter accounts and posting the following "confession":

How about we all stop using pirated iOS apps? I promise to stop. I really will. #softwarepirateconfession.

Because, as we all know, software pirates live and die by their reputations on Twitter. I know I do. This alone is enough to qualify Enfour for the Cringely Pantheon of Stupidity. But it gets better.

Enfour didn't merely shame people who installed a pirated version of its UniDict iOS dictionary; it shamed everyone who installed it, including the generous souls who plunked down $55 for it. It's still happening as I write this -- witness a long stream of identical tweets exactly like the one above. As Sophos Naked Security blogger Lisa Vaas notes:

The piracy module was supposed to shame people who actually stole Enfour's apps, but it ran amok, springing upon a huge chunk of the company's paid user base... Customers who opened the app and then let it go to sleep before closing had the "unpleasant surprise" of forced confessions.

1 2 Page 1