Twitter’s closed its loophole on searching blocked tweets (but not very well)

Note: anyone you’ve blocked can always see your tweets if your account is public. They can log out, or use a second account, or a third party app (eg Echofon) to see them.

If you search for a hashtag on Twitter, let’s say #homeopathy, you’ll probably no longer see tweets from people who’ve blocked you (perhaps for pointing out that they’re making misleading and possibly illegal health claims but that’s for a different blog). You’ll also no longer be able to see their tweets if you run a check using the from:username search string – Twitter now returns zero results.

So it looks as if Twitter’s ‘fixed’ the problem that arose where person B who had been blocked by Person A could still see Person A’s tweets with relative ease. This might seem like a good thing if you don’t want someone that you’ve blocked to be able to see your tweets.

However…
Despite the change that Twitter’s recently implemented it affects ONLY the official Twitter apps (such as Twitter for iPhone, Twitter.com on desktop browsers etc). It does not affect Tweetdeck on browsers, or Echofon for iPhone and I’d conclude from this that third party apps and platforms are unaffected by the change.

This means that users who tweet using official Twitter platforms will see things very differently from those using third party apps (who can see a lot more). Which is fine if they’re aware of that, but it often comes as a surprise.

Most third party apps will also display your profile to an account that you’ve blocked (in fact the person you’ve blocked may not even realise it. I didn’t spot that a homeopath had blocked me as, on Echofon for iPhone, I could (& can) still see and reply to their tweets).

Here’s how people you’ve blocked could see your tweets
(
or Here’s how you could see the tweets of people you’ve blocked)
• use a third party app such as Echofon where they can see your profile, and view tweets sent to a hashtag (even while logged in to their primary account)
• log into a secondary account on an official Twitter app
• view tweets sent TO you when using an official Twittter app (while logged in on their primary account) and click one to see the conversation thread which reveals your tweets
• log out on desktop Twitter (all public accounts are viewable and searchable)

Why do I keep boring on about this?
There is a persistent and mistaken belief among many users on Twitter (I’ve been actively monitoring this for 15 months now) that blocking someone means they can no longer see your tweets. This is not true now and has never been true. In fact it will never be true while it is possible to view public tweets once logged out.

My mum once worked as a secretary for a distinguished professor who had a three drawer filing cabinet. He called my mum into his office once to show off his DIY skills – he’d managed to add a lock mechanism to one of the drawers. Unfortunately he’d picked only the bottom drawer to lock and was a bit despondent when my mum pulled out the drawer above and pointed out that anyone could access his papers that way. That’s a bit like Twitter’s block. It looks like it offers some protection but doesn’t – but it isn’t immediately obvious, and people don’t need technical skills to see the tweets.

Background info on the change
Below are some tweets from someone working at Twitter who answered someone’s enquiries about the change –

“The blocked user won’t see your tweets via search, either” – but only affects official apps. “They will see tweets from other users that @mention you” – and can click on these to see the conversation thread which includes your tweets.

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