Make Twitter Useable Again

Screenshot 2019-07-23 08.56.14

Yesterday I was infected with the #NewTwitter virus meaning that I’d been upgraded to Twitter’s latest changes. I’m pretty grumpy about unnecessary change, particularly as all my carefully tweaked settings were no longer working and I was exposed to the full horrors of what Twitter’s like on desktop (web browser) without these settings. Scrolling through I could see that “So and so follows X, who sent this tweet” (who cares?) or “So and so liked this tweet” (just show me their RTs). Grim ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ve thrown everything at it to reverse this and so far it’s holding fast.

  1. Try and go back to Old Twitter
  2. See latest tweets first (chronological Twitter)
  3. Unsuggest the suggested tweets (X follows Y, X liked Z)
  4. Hiding side panels (“Who to follow” & “Trends”) and promoted tweets
  5. Troubleshooting
  6. Not yet solved (1): Proper Length Tweets
  7. Not yet solved (2): Blimey the images take up a lot of space in comment RTs
  8. Things I like about New Twitter

1. See if you can restore “Legacy Twitter” aka OldTwitter

1a. Simple link
To get back to legacy Twitter I’ve found that this works but perhaps it won’t after a while. It’s lost if you refresh the page, but new tweets show up in a panel at the top (‘See XX new tweets’, example below) as before so it’s fine.

You must RIGHT-CLICK and open in new tab to make this work. Don’t click on the link.

No need to refresh the page to view new tweets as Twitter provides this auto-updating feature, clicking on it shows the latest tweets.Screenshot 2019-07-23 08.42.49

1b. “Good Twitter” extension / add on
This works by convincing your browser that it’s unable to support new Twitter, forcing it to display Old Twitter. I’ve seen good things about it on Twitter but use Firefox so haven’t tested it myself.

For Chrome users

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/goodtwitter/jbanhionoclikdjnjlcmefiofgjimgca

Screenshot 2019-07-26 22.52.10

If you find afterwards that videos seem to be mucked up have a look on that page in the Reviews section, it seems to be more due to Chrome than to the add on. You might need to log out and in again to get it to work and there’s an explanation on the main page as to why it says it wants access to your browser history (apparently it doesn’t, it just needs permission to clear the cache).

Other Chrome extensions: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/extensions

For Firefox users

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/addon/goodtwitter/

Screenshot 2019-07-26 22.53.48

Other FireFox add-ons: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/

1c. A bit more tinkering involved
There are also add-ons that might affect more than just Twitter, and a technique for typing in a string to override something. This might be getting a bit technical for me (and 1a worked for me so I’ve not tested further). The aim with all is to fool Twitter into thinking that your browser cannot support its latest version.

User-agent switcher for Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/uaswitcher/
User-agent switcher for Chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/user-agent-switcher-for-c/djflhoibgkdhkhhcedjiklpkjnoahfmg

and

For those who just want to make the best of the new Twitter there are options to show latest tweets first, hide Who to follow suggestions, Trends and the in-timeline suggested tweets.

2. Show latest tweets first not ‘top tweets’ (chronological Twitter)

Once your Twitter home page looks like this at the top you should just see tweets in the order in which they’re sent…
Screenshot 2019-07-23 08.01.51

…to get there click on the blue stars icon and choose ‘Latest Tweets’ over ‘Home’. The bad news is that it will spontaneously revert so this is probably not a permanent solution. I’ve already tweaked my settings so the picture below gives me the option to return to the ‘wrong’ one.

Screenshot 2019-07-23 08.03.40

3. Removing the suggested tweets from timeline

This seems to be very effective though it takes quite a long time to manually paste all of the individual phrases into the ‘mute this word’ section. If anyone knows of a way to speed this up?

You can leap to your Muted Words setting on desktop here https://twitter.com/settings/muted_keywords on mobile it will be via the gear icon. See also Twitterโ€™s help page on Muting stuff, which curiously doesnโ€™t mention this.

For copying and pasting purposes the text types are: RankedOrganicTweet, ActivityTweet, suggested_rank_organic_tweet, suggest_sc_tweet, suggest_ranked_timeline_tweet, suggested_grouped_tweet_hashtag, suggest_pyle_tweet, suggested_recycled_tweet_inline, suggest_activity_tweet, suggest_recycled_tweet, suggest_activity, suggest_recap, suggest_who_to_follow, generic_activity_Highlights

I set these so that they were muted for everyone, forever.

4. Hiding side panels and promoted tweets

I really struggled with this one as my normal settings didn’t help. I’ve got both AdBlock Plus and UBlock Origin on Firefox (possibly they conflict with each other!). When Twitter began showing us irrelevant stuff I activated these to clear the timeline of crud but noticed that doing so also missed out other tweets. I’d toggle between having the blockers ON or OFF during searching and eventually noticed that Twitter just stopped showing me the stuff I didn’t want to see, even without the blockers on. Hmm.

Stopped working yesterday though and it took a few goes of pressing buttons to return to normal.

I’m using Firefox, not sure if it will be the same for other browsers. In the left panel with the small red logo is AdBlock Plus and it’s the “Block element” bit that lets you hover over an offending panel (or liked tweet) to set up an exception to hide that bit when the page loads. I think you need to add Element Hiding Helper to activate this. In the right hand panel with the large blue ON/OFF switch is uBlock Origin and it’s the dropper tool that you use to select an element you want to block.

Another solution I’ve seen for removing the distraction of trends is to change your location to a country whose language is unintelligible to you. Then you’ll still see it but it won’t mean much.

Caveat 1: be a bit careful when blocking elements and move the mouse carefully to see what is picked up. You want to block only the thing you want to block and not all the bits around it. It’s fiddly to undo.

Caveat 2: This can also hide other tweets (including your own) especially those with Twitter cards (images etc). It seems to do this fairly randomly but you will be missing tweets. If you need to run a search it’s best to switch off any blockers to ensure the best results.

Note that this automatically hides all promoted / advertised tweets. I actually didn’t mind those so much and have no objection to Twitter making some money but alas they stuffed up the user experience.

5. Troubleshooting

Now that I’ve had a couple of days playing with the adaptations I’ve made to New Twitter I’ve spotted some things that you may want to be aware of. Your own experience would depend on how much of the stuff above you’ve tweaked and what method you’ve chosen.

Not every tweet shown
Using AdBlockers and Element Hider Helper or whatever it’s called has always caused the minor glitch of some tweets with images in not showing up. If you are running a search for someone’s tweets or a hashtag and want to be sure of seeing everything it’s worth switching off the Ad Blocker or uBlock Origin temporarily (toggling off/on), and pressing refresh.

Settings
I’ve also spotted that I can no longer interact with Settings while I’ve got the blocks in place, it just shows up as a blank page. Toggling fixes.

Reply threads
Also if you’re replying to people in a thread and want to select who gets the reply that doesn’t work with the Blocks on and you need to toggle them to see a list of names to put a tick by (or remove the tick from).

Saved searches
This no longer seems to work in New Twitter. Fine in Legacy Twitter but doesn’t transfer over.

6. Not yet solved (1): Proper Length Tweets

When Twitter brought in 240 character length tweets everything suddenly took up a lot of room but the Proper Length Tweets (PLT) add-on solved that nicely. Unfortunately it no longer seems to work so the search is on for a replacement. For comparison here are tweets of mine screenshot from New and Old Twitter. It’s a lot easier to scroll through many tweets with this add-on working, particularly where people have used the full number of characters.

My example doesn’t show this off to its best effect as I’ve picked a tweet of mine that isn’t that large to begin with but you can see the difference between PLT on (top pic) and PLT off (bottom pic). When tweets have more characters the difference is more pronounced and the add-on makes scrolling much quicker as the tweets take up less space.

Screenshot 2019-07-23 08.35.53

Screenshot 2019-07-23 08.37.13

7. Not yet solved (2): Blimey the images take up a lot of space in comment RTs

First image shows what a comment RT normally looks like on Legacy Twitter and below is the same tweet screenshotted from New Twitter. The second one is the only tweet I can see at the time on the screen in New Twitter so it’s just taking up more space than needed.

Screenshot 2019-07-23 08.30.12

Screenshot 2019-07-23 08.30.26

8. Things I like about New Twitter

  • It tells you what platform (“Twitter for iPhone” or “Twitter for Android” or “Twitter Web Client” or “Twitter Web App” for desktop users) someone’s used to send a tweet. This can be vaguely informative in a mildly forensic sense – you can generally tell if someone’s tweeting from a phone or a laptop. I suspect it will also show tweets that have been sent by clicking on a ‘tweet this’ button from another website, or automated / delayed tweets, but haven’t played around with this

Screenshot 2019-07-23 08.33.50

  • It tells you if a tweeted image has had an image description added for visually impaired people [how to do that] – though I’ve not worked out how to read others people’s text. See ALT in the screenshot below, can’t interact with it though.

Screenshot 2019-07-23 08.25.47

 

Image credit is spanner / wrench by me (using shapes in PowerPoint) applying pressure to the Twitter bird logo, shrunk to fit (from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/vectors/twitter-tweet-twitter-bird-312464/). Here’s a copy of the .pptx

Alternatives to Storify (which is closing): capture old stories, create new ones

by @JoBrodie – who hopes you’ll tell her about other alternatives you know of ๐Ÿ™‚

This post is a work in progress as I am currently trying out the different tools available.

Storify is closing its doors on 16 May 2018 and all content will become unavailable. Any time before that point you can download your own (and other people’s stories). To avoid having to keep writing Storify stories I’m just going to call them Stories for now.

Table of contents

  1. Capturing Storify stories (aka Stories)
    1. … your own
    2. … or anyone else’s
    3. Other capturing options
  2. Re-publishing your Stories
  3. Alternative tools for future use
  4. The search continues…

1. Capturing Stories

Storify‘s cheerily named ‘End of Life’ FAQ can be found here: https://storify.com/faq-eolย – follow the instructions in the section called “How do I export content from Storify?

1.1 Capturing your own Stories

You can save your Stories as .XML, .HTML or .JSON files. When I tried with the HTML I was expecting a page of code but ended up with something that wasn’t quite that, and which I couldn’t embed into a new post. However you can still use the Save As option to save it as a web page (or as a PDF). You’d need to do this for each of your Stories.

Screenshot 2018-03-19 20.11.34.png

Screenshot 2018-03-19 20.12.20.png

 

You can also save as a web page by sticking .html at the end of any Story URL, then saving the resulting page.

Example
a) Storify original URL:
https://storify.com/jobrodie/what-happens-when-a-tweet-used-in-storify-is-delet2
(this link will stop working after 18 May)
b) Adding HTML to the end:
https://storify.com/jobrodie/what-happens-when-a-tweet-used-in-storify-is-delet2.html (this link will stop working after 18 May)
c) That HTML file saved to my Dropbox…
https://www.dropbox.com/s/efmgvuaq8h4xfld/What%20happens%20when%20a%20tweet%20used%20in%20Storify%20is%20deleted%3F.html?dl=0
(this link should persist after 18 May)

Wakelet, a free tool, will very helpfully let you export all of your published Stories to its platform and it will automatically publish them for you once done. This works very well. I had 43 published Stories and I set it running last night and woke up to all of them being migrated (I think it probably didn’t take the whole of the night to happen!). So far it has the Jo seal of approval*.

To use it you need to sign up (free, I logged in through Google). You’ll be given a bit of text to add to your Storify profile (a sort of handshake) then you can start the process and select the published Stories you want to import.

Screenshot 2018-03-18 22.49.52.png
You need to insert the bit of text in Step ‘1’ into your Storify bio then complete Step ‘2’ and let it get on with it. There’s also an explanatory video.

For unpublished / draft Stories you can either publish them and do the above, or just get the draft on-screen and save it as a web page.

Sutori, also a free tool, that lets you export your Stories to them too. Here’s their blog post responding to the news of Storify closing. Once you’ve registered you can create a new Story and one of the options is to import from Storify.

Screenshot 2018-03-19 20.02.07.png
Click the ‘Create story’ button on the left, then choose ‘Import from Storify’ that pops up.

Comparison
Here’s the same content, imported from Storify, on Wakelet and Sutori. I think Wakelet wins this particular test because it shows the text of a deleted tweet. I created the Storify in 2011, included in it a tweet that I later deleted to see what happened (the tweet persisted) Storify original | Wakelet import | Sutori import

 

1.2 Capturing someone else’s Story

Sticking .html at the end of any Story URL, then saving the resulting page. I don’t think you can use Wakelet to capture other people’s Stories, but you can with Sutori (however if they receive a ‘please remove’ request from the person who originally wrote it they will delete it).

1.3 Other capturing options

With short Stories you could copy the link for each ‘atom’ that makes up your Story (tweets, YouTube video links etc) and insert them individually into a WordPress dot com blog, but this would be ridiculously labour-intensive for larger Stories. Screenshotting / screencapturing is also an option, or using tools like Freezepage etc.

2. Re-publishing your Stories

Wakelet will automatically take care of that, your Stories now have a new web address (which brings its own annoyance but at least they’re published).

For Stories saved as web pages (or as text, then perhaps as a PDF) you could either upload the PDF to your website (eg a free WordPress dot com blog, like this one) or put the file in something like free Dropbox and share the link wherever you like.

3. Alternative tools for future use

  • Wakelet – this seems to be the most similar to Storify so far (I have not tested it for creation of new Wakelets, only for importing old Stories)
  • Sutori – (how to create a Sutori story guide) I have created an example Sutori with four of my tweets. I think it looks nice but seems to be too labour-intensive for collecting larger volumes of tweets. Possibly I need to spend a bit more time with it.
  • Shorthand Social – I’ve not tried this yet but clearly it lets you embed tweets. I don’t know if it lets you add them at the same volume that Storify did though (several hundred at a time). Here’s their ‘guide to Shorthand Social‘ post.
  • Participate – I have not tested this but it a colleague mentioned that it can save old Storify posts.
  • Twitter threading – if you’re just interested in collecting together a bunch of tweets then create a thread, encouraging people to reply to that (you can use the Unroll tool to get all the participating tweets in one collection). Admittedly this doesn’t work as well if you have a bunch of conversations going on based around a hashtag.
  • Twitter Moments – I think this only works for tweets, don’t think you can add in YouTube links (but I haven’t tried so maybe you can).
  • WordPress dot com blogs – many things will embed into WordPress blogs. I use the free .com version so am a bit more restricted than the .org versions (where you have to download software and you’d have your own server) but you can easily add a tweet’s link and it will autoembed as the full tweet (it will remain if deleted too).

 

4. The search continues…

I wanted to find out what people on Twitter were recommending as an alternative and searching there for Storify alternatives brought up Wakelet as the clear winner, in part because they have been very proactive in contacting people tweeting that they’re seeking alternatives – a sensible use of targeted marketing! There are also lots of people recommending it.

To find additional options I ran the same search but added -wakelet to remove tweets mentioning that to let me see the other options more clearly, that highlighted Sutori and Shorthand Social. Chatting on Twitter let me hear about Participate.

*Re: Wakelet importing
Obviously some things are lost in the transfer – eg the view count, the date of publication and any embedded Stories within a Story will eventually be lost. I tried and failed to add a link to the Wakelet version of one of mine. The Wakelet URL for an imported story is alphanumeric rather than following the pattern of Storify which has its domain / the user name / the name of the Story – that would have been helpful but fairly minor compared to losing all the Stories and the effort involved in capturing them!

โ€ข 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

 

 

 

โ€ข Hate seeing other people’s likes on Twitter? Some options to try

Updated 22 Jul 2019 – I search periodically for this post on Twitter because people often share it, then reply to themselves with some other useful thing they’ve found and that’s why this post keeps getting longer! Also check the comments for additional suggestions.

Updated 23 July 2019 – #NewTwitter means a lot more visits to this post, please see my dedicated Make Twitter Useable Again post for more info.

Let’s get rid of other people’s likes on Twitter!

Options known about so far… the first seven involve using website Twitter, the seventh is info sent to me about a phone app. Numbers 2-6 involve workarounds to improve the experience on Twitter.com

  1. Use 3rd party Twitter website eg Tweetdeck or Dabr
  2. AdBlock Plus with Element Hiding Helper (Firefox)
  3. UBlock Origin filter
    1. 3a. Chrome Extension: Make Twitter Great Again
    2. 3b. Chrome Extension: Get rid of trending topics
    3. 3c. Chrome Developer tools: Block all RTs (except manual or quote RTs)
  4. Try the “mute phrases” option
  5. User styles
  6. Dismiss every tweet with ‘I don’t like this tweet’
  7. Use a list of people you follow as main timeline
  8. App version (Nexus 6P)

1. Use 3rd party Twitter website eg Tweetdeck or Dabr
Log in to either https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/ or https://dabr.eu/ (will be shutting down soon) and enjoy a basic ad-free peaceful tweeting experience. Tweetdeck solution suggested by Alexandre in the comments.

2. AdBlock Plus with Element Hiding Helper (Firefox)
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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Screenshot 2017-07-27 00.32.07.png

NOTE that doing this may cut out other tweets from your timeline. I’ve found that if I have this switched on I may miss replies, and some of my own tweets (particularly those with images) are hidden, so it’s worth toggling between pruned and unpruned timelines periodically to check. It’s not perfect.

3. UBlock Origin filter

Thanks to an update from gorhill in the comments below it looks likely that if this tweet doesn’t render correctly on your screen you’ll see mangled instructions. I’ve added a screenshot of the same tweet below the embed (some browsers will show both correctly)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenshot of Glytch's tweet explaining how to use UBlock Origin to get rid of other people's liked tweets

3a. Chrome Extension: Make Twitter Great Again
“Hide liked tweets by others in timeline, hide Live Video, promoted tweets and others improvements for Twitter” (link) – apparently Opera can also use the same apps as Chrome.

3b. Chrome Extension: Get rid of trending topics
Andy (@digitonal) also shared a tip for getting rid of trending topics on Chrome using the Stylish extension to run a custom rule for Twitter.

.Trends { 
   display: none; 
}

3c. Chrome Developer tools: Block all RTs (except manual or quote RTs)
Nick Douglas has written a helpful post on Lifehacker with instructions on how to do this for Chrome browser users: How to disable all retweets on Twitter (6 March 2018).

4. Try the “mute phrases” option
Each suggested tweet has its own ‘type’ and some people have found success with muting the type, which seems to mute the tweet. It may not work for everyone and might depend on what version of Twitter you’re experiencing. Tweet below from @Squiddy (RTed into my timeline by @garius), then screenshot in case it doesn’t show up properly, and copy/pasteable text for good measure.

You can leap to your Muted Words setting on desktop here https://twitter.com/settings/muted_keywords on mobile it will be via the gear icon. See also Twitter’s help page on Muting stuff, which curiously doesn’t mention this.

Squiddy's tweet about muted words - Screenshot 2019-07-22 05.28.45

For copying and pasting purposes the text types are: RankedOrganicTweet, ActivityTweet, suggested_rank_organic_tweet, suggest_sc_tweet, suggest_ranked_timeline_tweet, suggested_grouped_tweet_hashtag, suggest_pyle_tweet, suggested_recycled_tweet_inline, suggest_activity_tweet, suggest_recycled_tweet, suggest_activity, suggest_recap, suggest_who_to_follow, generic_activity_Highlights

5. User styles – Twitter: Hide likes in timeline feed with Stylish
Note
– read Kyle‘s comment below (jump to the comment) for info on privacy concerns with Stylish, and an alternative that works with Chrome.

I have to admit I’m not entirely sure what this is. It’s some sort of CSS style that you can apply but I’m afraid I wouldn’t know how or for which browser (perhaps all browsers). I’m unlikely to investigate further as my solution (option 2) works fine but here’s the link and how I heard about it.

 

 

 

 

 

6. 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

7. Use a list of people you follow as main timeline
George in the comments below suggested this one and it’s got potential! Create a list (give it a nice name so no-one will be annoyed when they find they’ve been added) add the people whose tweets you would like to see and then view that list instead of your main timeline. You’ll see only the tweets of the people you’ve added and you won’t see any additionally inserted tweets that Twitter wants you to know about. Thanks George!

8. App version (Nexus 6P, official Twitter app)

 

 

 

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

Background
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 (here are mine: https://twitter.com/JoBrodie/likes), 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 [above] are a few suggestions.

This bit moved to the end for clarity after I spotted this tweet. Good point well made, I am quite chatty. See it’s 4 paragraphs now ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

 

This post has been referenced in a Lifehacker post (How to block other people’s likes on Twitter) which has brought lots of new visitors so welcome to the new folk and thanks to Lifehacker ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

โ€ข President Trump is being sued for blocking people, but the lawsuit makes no sense (to me)

NB: I am not a lawyer.

Some people are suing President Trump because he’s blocked them on Twitter. They argue that doing this stops them from reading or replying to his tweets and, by extension, means that their opinion cannot be made available to others who are reading the thread.

This is not true.

While I am not a supporter of President Trump this lawsuit appears to be based on a misunderstanding of what Twitter’s block actually means (to be fair this misunderstanding is very widespread). Perhaps if I were a lawyer I’d see some merit in the lawsuit but it currently eludes me, it seems to me to be daft, incoherent and wrong.

A block from an otherwise unlocked / public account wouldn’t stop anyone from reading the tweets or even replying to them (though locking the account certainly would).

Reading tweets from someone who’s blocked you, while logged in
If a user has blocked you simply search for their tweets (eg from:realdonaldtrump). I’ve tested this using a work account that blocked my personal account and it works on desktop Twitter, Tweetdeck, several iPhone apps, Dabr.co.uk and probably most Twitter platforms and apps.

Enthusiasts could set up an account with IFTTT and have any public account’s tweets emailed to them, or they could use another account to create a website widget which relays the tweets there.

Replying to tweets from someone who’s blocked you, while logged in
On desktop Twitter you need to click on the speech bubble icon to bring up the reply window (see the pics below). If you click on the tweet itself you’ll be taken to the ‘you are blocked’ page. On all the other platforms I’ve tested, including Tweetdeck, you can click on the tweet and reply to it.

Everyone else clicking on the tweet you’re replying to can see your reply*.

Viewing a “this tweet is unavailable” tweet that’s quote-RTed by someone else
In this scenario I’d simply right-click, open in private browsing window where you can view the tweet while not logged in. You can reply to the person who quoted the tweet while logged in to the regular browser window.

If an account blocks you can they see your tweets? Yes they can, though as your tweets aren’t delivered to them they won’t see them unless they want to. So, practically speaking, this might be ‘no’.

If anyone wishes to ‘not see tweets from someone’ while ‘avoiding being sued for blocking them’ then I strongly suggest MUTE as the better choice. If you are not following an account then MUTING them stops any tweets they send you from arriving. They don’t know they’re muted and can read and reply to your tweets (which others can see, but you won’t).

On desktop and iPhone Twitter (I’ve not tested other apps) you can arrange your settings to that you’ll only see tweets from accounts that you follow, which is basically the equivalent of muting everyone except accounts you follow. Again, no-one else knows.

*Twitter doesn’t show all replies
I don’t know how Twitter determines which tweets it will or won’t show, it may be algorithmic or it may be based on other users flagging up tweets as offensive. Occasionally in a thread I see ‘view more tweets, including those that may contain offensive content’ and they’re rarely all that offensive. Even if Mr Trump hadn’t blocked your account your replies to him might not be shown to him.

Worked example, with pictures
I’ve just blocked myself (@jobrodie) using one of my old work accounts @chi_med. The pictures below show me what I see / don’t see, and how I can reply to the tweet of an account that’s blocked me.

chimedblock01
Fig 1. @chi_med has blocked @jobrodie. When I’m logged in as @jobrodie I see a ‘you are blocked’ page if I try and look at @chi_med’s profile

 

chimedblock02
Fig 2. While logged in as @jobrodie I’ve searched for tweets from @chi_med by typing from:chi_med into the search bar, the results are clearly visible. Note the small speech bubble at the bottom left of every tweet – that will let me reply to the tweet.

 

chimedblock03
Fig 3. This is what I see if I click on one of the tweets (instead of the speech bubble to reply) – I’m taken back to the ‘you are blocked’ page from Fig 1, this is its URL.

 

chimedblock04
Fig 4. Clicking the speech bubble brings up a reply window.

 

chimedblock05
Fig 5. I’m not logged in, but the tweet from @chi_med now displays my reply – visible to all.
chimedblock06
Fig 6. How the tweet looks when I’m logged in as @chi_med. I can see that there has been a reply (see the little ‘1’ next to the speech bubble) but I can’t see what the tweet says because I’ve blocked the account that sent it. Others would see the tweet though.

 

 

โ€ข How to do .@ replies on Twitter

How to open up a tweet or conversation thread to your public timeline without quote-tweeting it (which breaks any threading as that creates a new tweet).

Updated – whether or not your mobile phone app can or can’t do the .@ may depend on the version of your software (eg iOS) or whether or not you’ve updated the app.

Mobile phone users
Carry on as you were by clicking the start of the reply to position the cursor there and typing the . as normal (tested on Twitter for iPhone, Echofon for iPhone and Twitter for Android – I’m assuming other apps behave similarly but please let me know if not).

@Flatsquid tells me that he can’t do this on his version of Twitter for iPhone (whereas I can) so this may be a version issue. I don’t have an option to update my version so can’t confirm, though I am using an older iOS.

Tablet users
Twitter for iPad can’t do .@

Twitter on Safari doesn’t work either but it seems that using Dabr on a browser does (thanks @medtek for checking). Open browser app, go toย http://dabr.co.uk/ and log in by authorising with Twitter credentials. Click reply and place the . at the front. Possibly Echofon for iPad would work too.

Web users
Twitter dot com and Tweetdeck can’t do .@

1a. On Twitter dot com or Tweetdeck reply within the confines of the new system
1b. Then retweet your own tweet – this makes it available to all your followers and maintains the thread so people can click and see the conversation.

OR

2. Dabr: Go toย http://dabr.co.uk/ and log in by authorising with Twitter. Click reply and place the . at the front.


What’s this all about?
Twitter’s latest improvement meddling has removed the capacity to insert a . before the username of the person you’re replying to on the desktop / web browser version of Twitter (eg Twitter.com or Tweetdeck). The simple addition of the . before the @ did two things (a) it converted a reply (which has a more limited distribution to those involved in the conversation and people following both them and you) to a broadcast tweet (visible to anyone following you) so that more could see it while (b) maintaining the threading, letting people click and see the expanded tweet in context. [Note that any tweet sent is visible on your public timeline unless sent as a DM or you’ve locked your account.]

In the new format Twitter has removed the usernames from the text of the tweet (giving us more characters, a potential plus I suppose) but making all replies replies and not easily ‘surfaced’ to more people.

I think this ONLY affects people tweeting from Twitter dot com and Tweetdeck, phone apps appear to be unaffected (may depend on OS version or app version).

I have no idea why Twitter has done this. I’m assuming they want to make desktop Twitter as difficult as possible to use to force everyone onto mobile apps, though that doesn’t make sense since there are so many things you can’t do (in terms of settings) on mobile apps. People have suggested that it reduces the risk of people piling on in response to a more publicised tweet – that would only be true if .@ was also removed from mobile apps or you couldn’t retweet your own tweet (which serves the same purpose, but perhaps doesn’t cue people in the same way that seeing .@ does). Possibly this will change in future.

Removing / adding people in the conversation
The other annoyance with Twitter’s new replies is that it adds an extra hassle barrier in untagging people from the conversation. They have now added a ‘remove everyone other than the person I’m replying to from this conversation’ one-click option.

Clicking ‘reply’ has always meant ‘reply all’ but the previous system made it easy to select the usernames as a chunk of text and delete, now you have to go and look for them. To do this click reply, then click on the line above saying ‘Replying to @name, @name etc’ and choose the options to delete people. You can write the names of new additions within the tweet – so there’s one way to remove people but a different way to add them, which seems confusing.

Threads are now a mess and it’s not clear who’s replying to whom.

Further reading
The New Twitter @-Replies Are Giving Me an Ulcer (30 March 2017) by Sarah Jeong