How to scrub your Twitter timeline of iffy Tweets – for potential politicians etc

Note that I use the Good Twitter browser add-on to make Twitter look and behave how it used to before the recent big changes, so my screenshots may not match yours.

Every so often someone finds an old tweet from a political candidate which embarrasses them and in some cases wrecks their chance of being selected, or elected. It might well be for the best that these are uncovered, so people know what they’re dealing with, but this post looks at ways of deleting old and embarrassing tweets.

I’d assumed that political parties would have prepared some sort of Advice to Potential Candidates on handling previous social media posts, but the continued re-publication of people’s earlier dodgy tweets suggests otherwise. I’d also have assumed that there would be some sort of Reputation Management companies that could help with this. Maybe there are and people are failing to take advantage.

Table of Contents

  1. Before you delete
  2. How to delete a Tweet / undo a ReTweet
  3. Search for the unwise Tweets you’ve sent

1. Before you delete

The point of deleting a dodgy old Tweet is to hide something that you once said and either now disagree with, or still agree with it but would rather pretend you didn’t. Deleting such Tweets is therefore largely an exercise in dishonesty and self-preservation – I’m sure you’ll go far in politics 🙂

Keep copies: It’s probably a good idea to take and keep a screenshot (how to do that) of anything you’re going to delete, perhaps including the URL / address if you’re able. I’d also recommend taking screenshot copies of the conversation thread if it’s in one, for context. Be aware that someone else may already have a screencap of your Tweet and taken out of context it may look much worse.

Will your deletions be flagged?: Politwoops UK (there are versions for several countries) records whenever a politician deletes a Tweet and if your account is being monitored then a copy of the Tweet and when you deleted it will live on there.

Tweets you send and delete seconds later may be noted: If someone is viewing Twitter via a web browser and if they leave the tab open then a build up of tweets gives a note like this, clicking on it brings up the waiting Tweets that arrived but weren’t shown and if yours was among them it will show up (even if you deleted it seconds later). This also happens if you reply to someone, and they have their Notifications page open in a tab. The tweet would disappear once they refresh the page but your tweet will likely be seen.

See Nine More Tweets sign

Is it better to own your mistake?: If you come across a dodgy tweet you’ve sent and regret it consider if saying so is better than deleting / denying it. Also will it look worse if you’re found to have deleted a tweet and then someone produces a copy of it?

It may all blow over anyway: lots of people mature over the several years they’ve been on Twitter and this progress may be more dramatic depending on how young they were when they joined. It’s not always fair to assume the worst, though of course it does depend on what people have discovered that you’ve written.

2. How to delete a Tweet / undo a ReTweet

Twitter’s help files have a whole page on how to delete a Tweet or undo a ReTweet. After the preamble on that page you’ll find an option to
“View instructions for… [Apple phones] [Android phones] [desktop computers]”

If you delete a DM (Direct Message) it’s deleted only from your own account, not the recipient’s.

3. Search for the unwise Tweets you’ve sent

Note that Twitter no longer shows every single thing in its search results. It can hide tweets it thinks are low value or ones that lots of people have reported as being offensive. Sometimes it shows the ‘best’ or ‘most relevant’ tweets first, so it’s wise to use a range of different search strategies to find Tweets if you suspect they’re there but not appearing in your results.

A basic search might involve searching from:yourname keyword and seeing if there’s anything particularly heinous in there, and deleting it if there is (while bearing in mind my earlier points about screencapping and so on).

As an example here’s everything I’ve ever said about muffins (a lot less than I’d have thought).

From:You to the world

  • My top tweets about muffins from:JoBrodie muffins
  • All my muffin-themed tweets ordered by latest first – from:JoBrodie muffins (achieved by choosing ‘Latest’ from the available options after doing the first search)

If you suspect you’ve sent a dodgy tweet to someone you can include that in your search string.

From:You to someone else

  • If you’ve replied to one of their tweets try – from:YourName to:OtherUser
  • If you’ve replied to several people including them try – from:YourName OtherUser

You can also find all the tweets you sent in 2017, or 2011 or between the 4th and 16th March 2013, using the Advanced Search (in fact I’d recommend familiarising yourself with the Advanced options anyway).

Note that the calendar input used to be be a bit skittish on Advanced Search. I’d previously recommend sticking any old date in then neatening it up on the search results page but it seems to have improved lately.

Twitter Advanced Search

Advanced Search dates uses the YYYY-MM-DD style so 2011-01-01 is 1 Jan 2011 and 2011-11-27 is 27 Nov 2011. I think of this as ‘US style’ but my friend Nick tells me it might be called something else 🙂

You can click on the bold year / month at the top to zoom out or zoom in on a particular year or month range.

Twitter Advanced Search 2011

After you’ve run the search you’ll see something like this, plus a whole load of tweets.

Twitter Advanced Search Results

The oval-shaped search box next to the avatar is where you can manually tinker with the dates. That search results page is linked here, you can adapt it for your search.

Other Tweets you’ve replied to
You might not be able to remember who you’ve sent a reply to, but if you think you’ve agreed with or endorsed someone else’s dodgy tweet then have a think about the sorts of things you might say in reply to them, such as “Typical”, “Agree” or “haha” etc and search for tweets you’ve sent saying that.

ReTweets
I’m afraid I don’t know how you could search for your ReTweets of other people’s tweets. You can certainly Un-ReTweet them (if you’ve found them, see above). If I find out I’ll add it here. Possibly there are more technical solutions (where you interact with Twitter’s API) but that’s beyond this blog and my skill level.

Searching through your own archive
You can download your Twitter archive (you request it by scrolling to the bottom of that page and clicking “Request data”, Twitter packages up your tweets, then revisit the page a bit later and download the zip file they give you) but it’s become much less useful recently. It used to give you a single index.htm file that you could open in a web browser and call up your previous tweets now sitting locally on your computer. You could even click through and read them on Twitter.com (and delete them if you wanted to). It doesn’t seem as straightforward now though and I’ve not really explored this option as a quick way of searching a copy of your tweets.

Twitter Download data

More from Twitter’s help files on How to download your Twitter archive

My friend Lynn wondered about downloading your tweets as a spreadsheet but I’m afraid I don’t know how it’s done – I didn’t even know it was possible (beyond copying a copy of every tweet you or someone else sends to a Google Sheet using IFTTT – note that this only works for tweets sent after you’ve set that up, not previous ones). I’ve got over 100,000 tweets though so I’m keen not to look at them in a spreadsheet format.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a Word label template for printing an 8 page ‘zine’ from one A4 sheet

tl;dr These dimensions will create an 8 page A4 zine using Word labels via the Mailing tab which you can then lay out online and print.

A4 label zine dimensions.pngThis will produce something like the below (with narrower gaps between each ‘label’ but shown here for clarity).

Zine layout showing 8 leaves.png

1. Zine-making old school

Take an A4 sheet of paper and fold in half in both directions (‘hotdog’, lengthways [long edge to long edge] and ‘hamburger’ widthways [short edge to short edge]) and re-open, bending the folds backwards and creasing them. Then fold each short edge to the middle and eventually you have a piece of paper with 8 segments as ‘pages’.

Have a look at https://zineopolis.blogspot.com/p/h.html to see how the finished zine will be when cut and folded then write and draw whatever you want on the pages, bearing in mind the page number order and direction of text. Fold ‘hamburger’-ily again and cut the middle bit leaving a neat tear, then assemble as in the info in the link.

You can scale up by drawing or gluing things to a master and then photocopy it.

2. Zine-making new school – slightly techier version

Create a Word template using Labels so that you can create a printable zine with whatever elements you want to include. You can then photocopy multiples and distribute. I’m making a mini zine for an event at work so I wanted something with our logos on, and for it to be slightly more tidy-looking than something I’d hand draw.

  1. Open Word
  2. Mailings tab
  3. Start Mail Merge > Labels
  4. New Label…
  5. Below the picture, in ‘Label name’ give it a name
  6. At the bottom of the box, in ‘Page size’ change it to A4 Landscape (29.7 x 21cm)
  7. Enter the figures as shown below, then press OK
  8. If you want to restart at any point and adjust the layout repeat steps 1-3 then scroll upwards to find your custom label name, highlight it then click on Details… changing anything and pressing OK will wipe what you’re doing so you may want to save a copy first. Recommend writing down any number changes you make!

Label dimensions for creating an 8 page A4 zine.png

Top margin: 0.03″
Side margin: 0.03″
Vertical pitch: 4.11″
Horizontal pitch: 2.91″

Label height: 4.06″
Label width: 2.86″
Number across: 4
Number down: 2

Make sure you have the right page size & that it’s landscape!

 

 

 

Note that the vertical pitch “is defined as the measurement from the top of the first label to the top of the label below it. The horizontal pitch is defined as the measurement from the left edge of the first label to the left edge of the label next to it.” Source.

Once you’ve pressed OK you’ll see a largely blank page with <<next label>> written several times but to see where the labels begin and end more clearly click on the Table Design tab that now appears and then click any of the grid options to see the lines.

Highlighting the limits of the labels.png
At top left is the newly created sheet of labels, on the right is a version with gridlines and shading to show more clearly where the labels are, using the Table Design tool that now appears in the menu. Remove shading and borders before printing using Borders tool on the right.

I’d previously created an entire ‘zine’ in PowerPoint which is my software of choice for laying out any text and images (eg for flyers) but I couldn’t get it to print correctly.  I also tried with Scribus, which is open source desktop publishing and layout software, but while it (and PowerPoint) looked great on the screen I couldn’t get the thing to print without introducing further margins. Remembering I’d recently vanquished Mail Merge and label printing I wondered if I could use that to override the margins with a custom ‘label’ – yep, Word worked.

3. Laying out the zine in Word (using PowerPoint!)

It was quite handy that I already had a pret-a-zine, as a .pptx, as it made it much quicker to re-create the zine in Word by selecting multiple items on each ‘page’, copying, then pasting into the Word zine, then moving into the relevant segment and neatening up. In fact I might actually recommend doing this step beforehand [download Basic powerpoint zine layout] because PPoint is more obedient in terms of letting you move images wherever you want them, it’s a bit more of a fight in Word. To control the position of images in Word I used the Picture Format > Wrap Text: In Front of Text which got them to behave. There’s probably a better way but this worked fine.

I was absolutely delighted, on printing and folding the Word label version, that it worked perfectly.

Zine layout on PowerPoint.png
Zine layout in PowerPoint – worked for laying out, not for printing (for me anyway)

4. A note on the calculations for pedants and enthusiasts – worked example

An A4 sheet is 11.69 x 8.27 inches, 29.7cm x 21cm (297mm x 210mm) or 842 x 545 pts in Post Script.

The figures above worked perfectly for me and my printer. Technically I made a very slight error in my calculation as I’d intended that all margins and space ‘units’ between each ‘label’ would be 0.05, meaning that I’d have 5 units horizontally (left and right margins + 3 spaces between four labels / columns) and 3 units vertically (top and bottom margins + 1 space betwen the two rows).

To get the ballpark figures for the dimensions I divided the long edge (width) by 4 and the short edge (height) by 2 to make 8 labels – 11.69/4 = 2.92 inches and 8.27/2 = 4.135 inches.

To work out the available width minus the margins and spaces I subtracted 5 x 0.05 (0.25) from 11.69 getting 11.44 inches, and for the height: 3 x 0.05 (0.15) from 8.27 getting 8.12 inches.

I then divided the width into 4 (11.44/4 = 2.86), and height into 2 (8.12/2 = 4.06).

So 2.86 inches is the width of one label. The pitch (width plus one space) is 2.86+0.05 = 2.91 inches.

Similarly 4.06 is the height of one label and the pitch is 4.06+0.05 = 4.11.

The two margins had been 0.05 but it didn’t work until I shaved a bit off and made them 0.03! The yellow dots in the picture below denote 0.05 but in the end the outer ones (red and orange) became 0.03″ to make it fit 😉

Zine dimensions as applied to the Word label .png

How I use Mail Merge for name badge labels using Word (& Excel or Notepad)

This is not a general ‘how to use Mail Merge’ post, it’s mostly a reminder for me for when I come to repeat this task next year and wish that this year’s me had written it down. This time, I made notes!

A mail merge involves importing a table of data (a spreadsheet in Excel form (“.xls(x)”), or as a tab- or comma-separated version in notepad) into a blank Word template so that the contents of each row in the spreadsheet is presented in label form.

You will need

  • Word – open a new document, this is where you’ll make the labels
  • Data file – Excel, notepad / text document, anything that has tabulated (columnar) data. Note that with Excel files with multiple tabs you can select which tab is used as the data source. Big fan of the text-based version though.
  • Patience and determination

1a. Open Word: Mailings tab » Start Mail Merge » Labels (select option / OK)

1b. Click on the ‘Label products’ drop-down menu and select brand, then size, then OK. You can also create your own label page from scratch with the New label option.
(I used “Avery A4 and A5 sizes”, L7163 (which has 14 labels to a page, 99mm in length, 38mm in height.)

1c. Word will now automatically populate a single page with largely invisible labels (‘Select All’ / Ctrl+A to see them) all but the first containing the phrase “Next Record”.

2. Select Recipients » Use an Existing List… (navigate to your data file, usually Excel (see section on troubleshooting) or notepad / plain text). If invited to “Open Document in Workbook:” click on menu to select which workbook (tab) of the spreadsheet you want to use. You can also select a cell range within that.

3. The ‘Edit Labels’ pop-up invites you to Insert Merge Field – click on that and add the fields (column headings) you want included, eg First Name will look like «First_Name». You can decide on the order and layout a bit at this stage but you’ve more control in the next stage so add them in and press OK.

4. Using the Home tab adjust the layout and appearance of the first record (top left, the only one that doesn’t say «Next Record» with colour, font, size, positioning etc. Once happy click back into the Mailings tab, click Update Labels to copy your layout across all labels. Then click on “Finish & Merge” and choose Edit Individual Documents… A new Word document will open with the finished labels which you can check and amend individually if necessary.

5. If you need to make changes affecting all labels just close the finished labels without saving and amend the underlying label design before repeating the Finish & Merge step.

6. While you can re-use this label ‘template’ with a different file (restart process from (2)) it doesn’t always work well and to be honest I’d start fresh, but I only do this once or twice a year. You may work out a better system for your needs.

Slight cheating
At point 1c you can stop if you only wanted to make a few labels manually, as you now have the basic template and can add in text and adjust layout, overwriting each «Next Record». For speed format the first label and copy to the rest by clicking the Update Labels button in the Mailings tab.

Troubleshooting
A friend sent me an Excel spreadsheet to make some labels and it misbehaved, giving me error messages when I tried to run the mail merge (it wanted me to download lots of unnecessary fonts). I completely solved that by selecting all the cells of the table and pasting into a blank notepad – it will keep the underlying formatting that lets it know where info in one column ends and the next column begins. It’s also a smaller file. Wikipedia has a good article on tab-separated data files.

On my Mac the Excel file wanted me to give it access to my keychain and I had to rebuff it a few times, also telling it not to download missing fonts. After clicking ‘deny’ and ‘no’ a few times it worked OK but it was quicker to paste the data into notepad and use that instead.

There’s an interim pop-up window if using a tab-separated notepad file where it asks what formatting it should use, for me it was a default Mac thing that worked (basically it asks ‘how should I read this file when transferring the contents to Word?’, with Excel it already knows as both are Microsoft products).

Font sizes
I had four lines of text using the following font sizes with Calibri or Arial.
FIRST_NAME – 36
SURNAME – 22 or 26
COMPANY – 14
DAY – 12     PHOTO OK – 12 (I’ve also written 14 in brackets in my notes).

Printing
This will depend on your printer but for mine it’s safer to print each page individually by selecting ‘print current page’ (the printers at work overenthusiastically default to double-sided!) and then feeding in the label sheet through the side tray, labels facing down but maintaining normal top to bottom (ie flipped only front and back).

Colouring in blocks or individual labels
Select labels to be coloured, right-click, borders and sharing, select colour and choose ‘apply to: Cell’ from the options then OK.

How to set up a rolling / looping PowerPoint for a display eg kiosk

At the final film event at the Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival (I’m one of the volunteers) last night we wanted to show a rolling display of photographs taken from our previous events. This is something that is reasonably straightforward using PowerPoint.

1. First create your presentation.

2. Click on the Transitions tab and make sure there’s a tick in the box on the left of ‘After:’. The box in the right lets you adjust the time (in seconds) to determine for how long the slide appears on the screen. In the example given it changes every 15 seconds. If you want all slides to be on screen for the same time click the Apply to All button and check a few slides to make sure it’s worked. Or adjust each slide individually.

Screenshot 2019-09-15 15.59.26

If you want the slide to appear gradually you can fiddle with the ‘Duration:’ options (3 sec shown) but you also need to click on one of the effect options (eg ‘morph’, ‘cut’ or ‘fade’) to activated it. If it’s on the default ‘None’ then nothing will happen.

3. Click on the Slide Show tab then the Set Up Slide Show option and choose ‘Browse at a kiosk‘. This will cause the presentation to show at full-screen size and loop continuously until you press Esc.

Screenshot of 'Set up Show' on Powerpoint, allowing you to make it loop continuously by setting it as a kiosk presentation

OR: If you want a bit more control you can choose the top option (‘Presented by a speaker [full screen]’) and also click ‘Loop continuously until Esc’ and making sure the ‘Using timings if present’ is ticked. This will let your presentation loop as before but also gives you the option to move a slide on (usually by clicking the space bar) if you want to.

Screenshot showing the manual version of how to make a presentation loop - it allows you to advance the slides as well

4. Run the presentation and check that it behaves as expected.

Here’s an example one to play with (looped) so you can see how changes to the the slide duration and effect duration options work in practice. It uses sound so silence your speakers or lower the volume if you are somewhere you’d rather not have that.

To run it as a loop just open the file and start the slideshow (see how below) – it will run until you press Esc. It has 3 slides in its deck.

Demo powerpoint presentation that loops

How to start a slide show

Use any of the four options shown (they appear randomly, not in a particular order)

  • Blue / grey = View, Slide show
  • Grey / orange = Mac menu for PowerPoint, Slide Show, play from start
  • Grey = Slide show icon at bottom right of window
  • Orange / grey = PowerPoint’s own menu, Slide Show, Play from start

Or use the shortcut key shown for Macs, or this info for PCs

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

How to record screen (or part) on a Mac via Mojave OS

This is just an opportunity to point people to Apple’s excellent help page on this topic, with instructions and screenshots. Go here for more https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT208721

Shift+Command+5 brings up a resizable window (adjust to select an area you want to record, or click the ‘whole screen’ option). You can tweak the settings to include the inbuilt mic if you want your video to have spoken instructions. To end the recording you need to press Shift+Command+5 again at which point you can edit out the ending (the bit of you moving the mouse to press ‘stop’) from the recording, and you can shorten it at either end.

Give it about 3 seconds after you press record before speaking as there seems to be a slight delay and I’ve found it generally misses off the first few words. Recommend doing a test 10 sec recording first.

Once you’ve completed the recording a small pop up version appears at the bottom right of the screen (on my system) and clicking it brings up the video with a panel at the top for editing. Click the button on the left of Done to shorten it (first pic below), and use the yellow drag bars (2nd pic below) to shorten it. You can click anywhere in the ‘tape strip’ and press play to see how your new ending / beginning changes things.

Screenshot 2019-08-23 13.09.58

Screenshot 2019-08-23 13.10.06

Here’s one I made earlier, which relates to Make Twitter Useable Again

Basic photo watermarking on an iPhone

If you happen to take images of ‘stuff happening’ that might be newsworthy and that you want to share but not have mis-used there are apps that let you add a watermarks. I presume these watermarks can also be removed later, presumably by you (but perhaps by newspapers) so I might suggest screenshotting the image first and sharing that instead. Screenshotting also means minimal EXIF data. But you can do it without apps too and just draw your initials on the picture and only remove them when you send (by DM) a copy of the image to media sites you want to [though this won’t stop someone from passing it on I suppose…].

For iPhone users you can draw on any picture in the Camera roll –

  1. Make a duplicate copy of the photo first (to keep the original safe)
  2. Draw your watermark on the copy
  3. Screenshot the watermarked copy and share that (watermark possibly harder to remove because it’s no longer layered on top of the image, and EXIF data is hidden)
  4. Resizing the image if necessary

1. Duplicate the original

Have the photo open, click the upload icon (the one on the left in the all-blue icons picture below), then choose Duplicate which is the middle grey icon in the second image below. Note that you may have to scroll right to find this option.

1A

Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.32.58
Pic 1. It’s the one with the arrow bursting out of an empty box, on the left

1B

Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.34.21
Pic 2. Duplicate icon is a grey rectangle with a white + & a single grey rectangle behind.

Once you’ve created your duplicate open that one (you can slide back and forth between the two copies).

2. Draw your watermark

Click on the Edit option (on the right in the pic below), then choose the three overflow dots in a circle (•••), then click Markup.

2A
Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.38.56

2B
Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.40.34

2C
Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.41.44

You’ll have the option of various pen thicknesses, and colours to choose from. To select the colours click on the (()) symbol…

2D                         and                  2E
Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.56.45   Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.58.11

…or you can add text by clicking on the (+) at the end (in pic above).

2F
Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.55.56

Once you’ve added whatever watermark format you’ve chosen and clicked DONE twice (once in blue at the top right of the photo, and once in yellow at the bottom right) you’ve completed the ‘add watermark’ to your duplicate image bit of the process.

2G

IMG_1595.jpg
“Watermarked” image.

3. Screenshot it

Click on the image to remove the white borders (the bits saying the current date / time, battery info or whatever’s currently on your phone) and to see the image just on its own – usually with a black border at top and bottom. The two images in 3A below are identical, the only difference is the white or black border – this is a toggle-click, where clicking once hides the phone info and clicking again brings it back, and so on.

3A

Press the ON/OFF button and HOME button simultaneously (iPhone) to make a screenshot which is saved to your cameraroll. (You can do the white-border one too of course but may need to do an extra step of pruning out the additional info)

This is the image that you should share.

4. Resizing / removing the white or black borders

If you want to prune out the borders outside the relevant image, or only want to share a particular portion of the image then use the cropping tool to do this.

Click the image again to bring up the white borders which shows the options. Click Edit (see 2A), then the white square tool from 2B which will go white as shown at the bottom of the three images in the panel below.

Screenshot 2019-08-17 23.07.41.png

Left: the square button brings up the resizing boundary – you can use the corners or sides to shrink the picture. Middle – I’ve taken most of the top black border off and the resulting image now takes up more space on the screen. Right – I’ve pruned out all of the unnecessary bits. The next thing I click on is Done (in yellow, bottom right of each pic).