• Blocking quiz / test apps from accessing your Facebook information

Here’s what I posted on Facebook recently

Your friends are the weakest link, mine too

Every time I spot that you’ve taken some test on Facebook and shared your results here I block the app that you used. This is because, when you authorise the app to interact with your page, it is then able to interact with mine* (and can, I assume from the wording below, access non-public information). Which I’d rather it didn’t. Obviously I will miss some because Fb won’t show me everything.

How to block apps etc https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=blocking

*because you can see my page and the app can access what you can access

Screenshot 2017-11-16 00.56.06.png

If you scroll down that page there are several options for blocking or restricting various things. At the time of writing (Nov 2017) the list is

  • Restricted list
  • Block users
  • Block messages
  • Block app invites
  • Block event invitations
  • Block apps
  • Block pages

The last two are particularly useful for dodgy looking quizzes and tests. As far as I can tell when your friends take a test they authorise the app to access their page. Their page can access all your info, so my supposition is that the app can access all your info too. This is borne out in the format of the help text Facebook uses to clarify what happens when you block an app (in the picture above) – “Once you block an aapp, it can no longer contact you or get non-public information about you through Facebook.” Hmm, the ‘non-public information’ bit made me wonder, so I have blocked – over the years – over 260 of these apps I think, here is my full list.

It’s very simple to block, just start typing the name of the offending app and autofill options will appear (if not you’d need to visit the app’s page and see if you can work out who is behind it). If an app doesn’t show up in the Block Apps dialogue box try it in the Block Pages option lower down.

Of course once someone’s authorised an app it’s already (presumably) been able to harvest some of your info so you can request that individual app owners remove that data by contacting the developer directly. I have not done this, I probably should.. but…

Further reading

 

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• How can I/we persuade employers to set up a /jobs redirect from their homepage?

If an organisation…

  • employs people and
  • has a website…

…then I think it would be great if they made

https://www.companywebsite.com/jobs

redirect to wherever they keep their vacancies page. This would let visitors to any organisation’s site type /jobs at the end of the homepage and find out about opportunities.

An example is https://cern.ch/jobs which autoredirects to https://jobs.web.cern.ch/

Websites often move their vacancies pages around during site overhauls but companies also use different terms to refer to jobs (vacancies, employment, career, recruitment, opportunities, work with us, work for us etc) – this can mean a few search attempts before uncovering it (assuming it’s there, smaller orgs might not have one).

If you like this idea please share with organisations. I’d love it if this could be the industry default 🙂

How to set up a redirect
Ironically, for a mildly tech-ish blogger, I am not particularly confident in advising how to do this. The method I’ve used for an old website may not be ‘best practice’ but it did work. That method used the refresh redirect and the code looked like this

Screenshot 2017-11-12 01.16.05
The W3Schools website lets you try out some html to achieve this effect and once you’re happy with it you can copy the code to your own site.

This site says that you shouldn’t use the refresh redirect though as it can cause problems if your website visitor uses the back button. It recommends instead using HTTP redirects. The 123 registration site has information (and example text) on how to do that.

Wikipedia has super-detailed information on URL redirection. I’m hoping that people who maintain organisation’s websites know more about this and can set this sort of thing up fairly easily.

You can only delete Twitter DMs (Direct Messages) from your own mailbox

The screenshot in the tweet below comes from Twitter’s support pages on Direct Messages, in particular the section on ‘Things to know about Direct Messages‘. The text says “When you delete a Direct Message or conversation (sent or received), it is deleted from your account only. Others in the conversation will still be able to see Direct Messages or conversations that you have deleted. When you delete a group conversation, you will leave that group and will no longer be able to participate.

I spotted this yesterday and a friend helped me check to see if it was the case. It is. It seems to be a new thing but I don’t know when it was implemented, or why. I’m fairly certain that it used to be the case that if you deleted a direct message then it was deleted everywhere, but that is no longer what happens.

In the screenshot within the second embedded tweet (above) my friend has deleted the direct message saying “Let me know when you’ve seen this DM… and I’ll delete it“. After refreshing my page (and also checking on my phone) his DM was still there for me. I also deleted one of his and we tried all the permutations we could think of.

So… if you send a DM and delete it the other person will still have a copy.

Note that if the other party has email notifications switched on it’s possible that the email will contain a copy of the text of the DM*, or just inform them that a DM has been sent (possibly both – I switched off email notifications as soon as I could so no longer know what’s in them).

*the same email notification thing would happen with an at-mention too.

Supplemental
What happens to the DMs of someone blocks you? They’ll still be there.

I’m blocked by several #homeopathy fans though I’ve exchanged a few DM messages with one, who later blocked me again). Those messages are still there – I’ve no idea if the other party deleted them too (I didn’t delete mine, just forgot about them but went and checked). Until this moment I’d assumed that blocking someone wiped the DMs. I’m not sure if it did and Twitter’s restored them to my mailbox (literally not looked at them in two years) or if they were always there.

This also means that all of my Quora answers on the topic have turned out to be wrong 😉

I have been trying to find out when this change (I’m convinced it’s a change and that it hasn’t always been this way) and the earliest tweet(s) I can find about it are below.

This suggests the change happened between 2014 and 2015 – anyone know more?

Got it! July 2014! See point 5 in the list change from 7th to 19th July. There isn’t an archived snapshot of the page between 7-19th July bht Lou and Sharon’s tweeted exchange above suggests deleting still affected both parties on 9 July 2014.

7 July 2014 – archived copy of Twitter’s support article from that date, screenshot below

Screenshot 2017-10-06 23.46.53

19 July 2014 – archived copy of Twitter’s support article from that date, screenshot below

Screenshot 2017-10-06 23.49.29.png

This refers to using Twitter on the web, the info also tells you how to delete DMs using a phone but doesn’t specify if they’re deleted for the other person too.

• Twitter’s closed the loophole that let you reply to tweets of people who’ve blocked you

Screenshot 2017-09-08 23.11.07

Up until a few days ago it was possible to reply to the tweets of someone who’d blocked you on Twitter. While the blocker would (presumably) not see those tweets you could still add your reply and others would see your contribution. This has been under some considerable discussion by people wishing to comment on President Trump’s tweets (I have no idea if Twitter’s loophole has been in response to that).

As far as I can tell if you’re blocked you can no longer directly reply to a tweet sent by an account that’s blocked you. However you can send them a new at-message tweet (they probably won’t see it given that they’ve blocked you) and you can still contribute to their conversation thread by replying to an intermediary tweet (ie by sending a reply to someone who has (a) already replied to the tweet and (b) hasn’t blocked you). But do be polite or your account may be suspended 🙂

I’ve tested direct replies to an account thats blocked me using the following apps / platforms and received an error message on each – cannot send a direct reply from any of them. If you know of one that works please let me know.

  • Twitter on desktop and for iPhone
  • Tweetdeck
  • Echofon (iPhone)
  • Dabr.co.uk
  • Janetter (iPhone)

Twitter would do better to stop people from being able to send tweets to the at-name of anyone that’s blocked them, as this current loophole-closure doesn’t stop replies-to-replies or new conversations.

It does make it a bit harder for me to correct the misleading tweets that homeopathy supporters send out – a few of them have blocked me, and other “anti-homeopathy skeptics”, for pointing out that homeopathy is not valid medicine.

Thanks to Pippo for drawing my attention to this.

 

 

 

• How to download Audioboom posts as mp3s

Audioboom is no longer supporting free accounts, they will not delete your content for three years though so don’t panic (yet). However at the end of October 2017 they’ll make all free accounts private, so if you have your sound-posts embedded in other places then they’ll no longer work. They will help you migrate your RSS feeds (more info here) though.

This embedded post of mine will presumably stop working properly in a month or so…

Of course Audioboom are entitled to start charging and restrict services from non-payers, it’s just a bit frustrating for individuals (who own the content) and the wider internet which suffers when embedded audio files disappear on websites along with comments. Basically this ‘breaks the internet’ a bit.

Here’s one way of downloading any Audioboom sound file, as an mp3. I’m investigating better solutions for people with lots of files. Below that are suggestions on how to share them online again.

1a. How to download any Audioboom file as an mp3

  1. Visit the page of the sound file, eg here’s one of mine
    Screenshot 2017-09-02 14.29.46
  2. Add .mp3 to the end of the URL in the address bar, press enter – this automatically changes the page to an mp3 player page
    Screenshot 2017-09-02 14.30.46
    Screenshot 2017-09-02 14.32.09
  3. Hover over the play icon (it goes blue) and right-click Save Audio As…
    Screenshot 2017-09-02 14.33.06
  4. Repeat for other files
  5. If you have a lot of files (I have 85 clips to download) there’s probably a more efficient way (I don’t know it yet but will gladly link if I hear of it). I have emailed Audioboom support to ask them support@audioboom.com

There are some techy suggestions on Twitter which include uncovering them from iTunes by subscribing to the podcast RSS. To be honest I’m looking for a ‘Download archive’ button as on Twitter 🙂

1b. Additional information on downloading

  1. You can also download the image that accompanied your ‘boom’ (or ‘boo’ as they used to be called when the service was Audioboo) with right-click Save as too OR hover over the pic and take a screenshot, that way you’ll get an image of the little soundwave, that also gives information.
  2. For completists you might want to number your sound files and have an accompanying readme.txt type of file that includes info about the date originally published and the hashtags.

2. Where to put your files now you’ve downloaded them
You can upload sound files as a video (static image) to YouTube. WordPress also lets you pay £80 a year for the ability to upload more files than the basic ones (without it you can’t upload sound files, only embed them from somewhere else).

Background

• Hate seeing other people’s likes on Twitter? Some options to try

I follow over 2,000 people on Twitter so obviously I don’t see every one of their tweets, but I can live with that. If I need to catch up with someone’s tweets I can look at their profile. Twitter went through a phase of showing me ‘things you’ve missed’ while I’d been away, which was annoying. There’s also an option where you can be shown the ‘best’ tweets rather than the straightforward reverse-order chronological timeline. Fiddling about unnecessarily.

More recently Twitter’s started sharing, in your main timeline, tweets that other people have liked. Ironically I don’t think anyone likes this, I hate it. Even though some of the tweets are pretty good it really annoys me. Liking or favouriting on Twitter has usually been a semi-public act, in that you can go and look at someone’s likes if you wish, but otherwise they’re not ‘surfaced’ to your timeline, and now they are. I vaguely remember Twitter having an Activity tab where it showed what your friends were liking but it was short-lived.

No-one’s found an option that lets you switch this off (which is odd given that you can select options for almost everything else that Twitter displays) but here are a couple of suggestions.

1. AdBlock Plus with Element Hiding Helper
It’s the Element Hiding Helper that does the heavy lifting here, although AdBlock Plus by itself gets rid of the sponsored tweets. Generally I don’t really mind sponsored tweets (I’m happy for Twitter to advertise to me) but I’m not interested in who to follow or trends and the additional bolt-on lets me get rid of that.

When you see a tweet that’s been inserted into your timeline because someone’s liked it call up the Element Hiding Helper. It lets you select an area containing the offending tweet (be careful not to select too much, or too little) and remove it from view. It might take a few attempts to catch all the slightly different variants (oh there are variants!) but I’ve found it to be very successful. You can also wipe out Moments, Trends, Who To Follow panels from around the main timeline and you can eliminate things inside the timeline too.

Here’s what my page looks like. I’ve got rid of Moments and the Analytics panel. On other pages you’d see the lack of Trends and Who to follow…

Screenshot 2017-07-27 00.28.42

Here’s a clip of what I see on my mentions (for privacy I’ve not shown any tweets as some are from locked accounts). There’s a white panel containing tweets in the middle and two lovely clear grey panels on either side, with nothing in them at all 🙂

Screenshot 2017-07-27 00.32.07.png

2. Dismiss every liked tweet with ‘I don’t like this tweet’
Every tweet has a small arrow to the top right with options in (highlighted in blue below). For these liked tweets one of the options is ‘I don’t like this tweet’ or ‘show me less of this’ (not seen in the example below because it’s a different type of tweet) – select that and after a few times apparently the annoyance will go away.

I don’t use this method myself in case it causes problems for the person who’s tweet has been liked but it seems to work, though takes longer (and one advantage is that it does actually tell Twitter you don’t like it whereas my preferred method gives no feedback).

Picture below is illustrative. Because it wasn’t promoted to me as a ‘someone liked this’ the “I don’t like this” option isn’t available from the drop-down menu, but that’s where you’d find it if you had one of these tweets in your timeline.

Screenshot 2017-07-27 00.36.02.png

If you know of other methods, let’s have ’em.