Ninja’s phone number stunt is a data-gathering marketing scheme

Ninja gave his number out to the internet, but you're probably more likely to get a reply from a PR person or marketing materials

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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.

As investigated by Polygon, Community’s terms of use make it clear that the company is allowed to impersonate Blevins: “a message sent by a Client may appear to come from a celebrity or other famous individual or influencer but may actually be sent on his/her behalf by the public relations or other social media representatives.” Messages aren’t private, and are entirely used for promotional purposes.

Community’s privacy policy adds that the information you provide in the form isn’t all the company is collecting. It also collects IP addresses, your browser selection, your device type, and its location, among other details. London-based lawyer Pete Lewin replied to Polygon’s article with his take, noting that this personal information is being collected “for unclear reasons”.

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.