The game requires Facebook or Twitter OAuth to play. Initially, when a player first joined the game, on the sign-up screen, the “Echo this message on your social network, once only:” tickbox was automatically checked. (If the player didn’t uncheck it, the site advertised itself on their Facebook or Twitter page.) This was later changed, apparently in late 2010, so that the box started unticked.
In the game itself, players are given seventy actions per day, which are spent by performing the core activities of the game. Players are given the option to increase that to eighty actions per day if they are willing to post an advert for Echo Bazaar to their Twitter/Facebook stream every single day. By default, the message is a cryptic phrase from the game itself, but the player is allowed to edit the ad message however they wish, so long as they URL is intact. This ad can only be posted once per day.
A new player only starts the game with ten actions; when those have been used up, the player has to choose between waiting for those actions to refill (which would take 70 minutes), or clicking a button to post an Echo Bazaar ad to their Twitter stream, which would refill their actions immediately.
It’s not uncommon to see players simply working the URL into their day-to-day Twitter postings by using the edited message to make a normal, but truncated tweet. Players seem relatively comfortable with the idea of spamming their friends with a URL advert once per day, in return for a benefit given to them inside the game – the advantage of a whole ten extra actions in the game universe (which will let you level up more quickly than a player who refuses to advertise on Twitter) seems greater than the drawback of very slightly annoying a number of Twitter friends.
Echo Bazaar appear to accept that this form of Twitter advertising annoys people, but “want to limit that annoyance to, oh, the kind of annoyance I’ll feel when the World Cup rolls round and half my friends start tweeting about bloody football”.