Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins is one of the world’s biggest streaming personalities, and despite his recent move from Twitch to the less-popular Mixer his popularity shows no sign of abating. He’s got millions of fans around the world, so when he tweeted out his phone number to the internet recently, unsurprisingly he got a big response.
However, there’s more to the stunt than first appears. In a video alongside the tweet, Blevins asks fans to fill in a form with their information so he can “text you guys personally”, and even play Fortnite with some people who sign up.
Sending a text to the number will get an automated reply with a link, which leads to a form that asks for your name, gender identity, birthday, city, and optionally your email – and is powered by a marketing company called Community. Fans agree to receive alerts and marketing materials from the company regarding Ninja, but digging a little deeper shows that the number is provided by the company – and the replies people get may not actually be from Ninja himself.
312-584-4684 yes this is my number. Yes I will receive each and every text. I'll try to reply to as many as possible. This is gunna be fun… longterm!! pic.twitter.com/iHBpupMTe5
— Ninja (@Ninja) August 11, 2019
a) It's not actually Ninja's own number,
b) Ninja isn't personally replying to most messages,
c) It requires you to opt-in to receiving marketing comms,
d) Messages aren't private, and
e) Tons of data is being collected for unclear reasons.
— Pete Lewin (@LegalGamerUK) August 13, 2019
Blevins suggested in a follow-up tweet that he’s been sending fans “personal videos” to everyone who texted, which may be true – but you’ll have to give your personal information to a marketing company to find out.