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 to 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 to 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

How to reply to, or RT, tweets from someone who’s blocked you (Dabr, Echofon, Janetter)

tl;dr – use these third party apps – Dabr (desktop) or Echofon or Janetter on iPhone.

Added 5 June 2017 – it seems that you no longer need to use third party apps when using Twitter / Tweetdeck on a desktop computer with a browser. You can see the tweets of people who’ve blocked you appearing in search results and you can reply by clicking directly on the reply icon (you can’t click on the tweet on Twitter though, though can on Tweetdeck).

If you’re replying to someone who’s blocked you please try and be polite – your tweets are still subject to Twitter’s community rules and terms of service. Also, remember that the person who’s blocked you won’t actually see your replies (unless they want to), but everyone else can.

Here’s the original post…

 


 

This post serves two purposes – mainly to let more people know that if you’ve blocked someone they can still reply to your tweets (and that other people can see and interact with those replies) and to highlight to skeptical or political activists that it’s still possible to correct misinformation tweeted by “the other side” (which of course works both ways!).

Over the years I’ve been blocked by lots of alternative medicine providers and supporters, particularly homeopaths and people flogging live blood analysis. Some of them are pretty harmless but a handful persist in tweeting misleading and occasionally dangerous health information. In those cases I think it’s worth replying to those tweets so that whenever anyone else clicks on them they might see the threaded replies with more correct info.

I think most people now know that if you block someone they can still see your tweets.

Generally this is wrongly believed to involve a bit of effort (in that they’d have to log out and search for your tweets, or log into a different account etc). However if the blockee is using one of the third party apps mentioned below then it involves precisely zero effort – it’s easy to see the tweets and reply to them, particularly if watching a conversation unfold via a hashtag. Most third party apps will now no longer let you view the profile of someone that’s blocked you – but if you’re reading and contributing to a hashtag you’d probably not even notice.

I think fewer people know that blocked people can also reply to your tweets, or retweet them [see note at end], while logged in as themselves rather than some spare account. Remember that if someone’s blocked you the chances are high that they won’t see your reply, but others may well do.

Here’s how they (you / I / we) can do that.

Desktop Twitter

Log into Dabr (http://dabr.co.uk/) by authorising it to interact with your Twitter account, search for a hashtag or the name of someone who’s blocked you – find a tweet, click reply.

Neither twitter.com nor Tweetdeck (now owned by Twitter I believe, so should be considered as an official Twitter app) will let you see tweets from those who’ve blocked you. (Updated 5 June 2017 – I discovered today that this is no longer the case and it’s possible to both view, and reply to, these tweets through web Twitter or Tweetdeck – this may change back to how it previously was of course!).

iPhone

*Note* I do not automatically update my apps, or my iOS version (it all works fine as it is so no particular pressure to do so). This may mean that my version is working while your updated one doesn’t – obviously I can’t really test this, so be aware of that if it doesn’t work for you.

Echofon and Janetter
Download the app (I think free / ad-supported versions are available), log in, search for hashtags or names and click on a tweet to reply. You won’t be able to view their profile (but can see their tweets fine in hashtag- or name-search results though).

Neither the official Twitter for iPhone app nor Osfoora for iPhone will let you reply to the tweets. You can see them on Osfoora but not Twitter for iPhone. I’ve not tried any other iPhone apps. Mobile Twitter (viewing mobile.twitter.com on Safari on iPhone) blocks the tweets entirely too, no viewing (and obviously no replying).

Google, Android or other phones I don’t know about

At this stage I don’t know. It used to be Fenix for Android which let people see tweets from those who’d blocked them but I believe that’s no longer possible so I’m not sure which apps would do this, if any. I’m hoping that someone reading this might let us know and I’ll update the post.

Supplemental:
probably more than you wanted to read about Retweeting

There are a few ways to retweet someone’s tweet – 1 and 2 won’t be available if you’ve been blocked though, but 3 and 4 are

  1. ‘Native’ RTing – on desktop Twitter you would click on the retweet button, it asks you to confirm and if you say yes the RT button goes green and this adds ‘1’ to the tweets RT count
  2. Quote RT – on desktop Twitter this is identical to (1) but this time you add a comment and the green button stays grey and the counter doesn’t increase
  3. Retweet with Comment – on Echofon for iPhone this manually pastes the text into the tweet and lets you edit it and add your own comment
  4. Retweet as Quote – on Echofon for iPhone this manually pastes the tweet’s URL / link into the tweet and lets you add a comment.
  5. I’m sure other variants are available but I’ve not tried it on Janetter or Dabr

Both 3 and 4 work if you’re blocked.

Watch out with 4 though as the tweet would normally show up as an embedded tweet but if you’re blocked it will instead show up as ‘This tweet is unavailable’. On seeing that message many of your followers might reasonably assume that the tweet has been deleted or that the user has blocked them. They might not realise that they’ll be able to see the tweet fine if they click on it, and it’s only you who has been blocked – so be aware that (4) may be a bit confusing and (3) may be better.

How to display Instagram pictures correctly in tweets using IFTTT

If you post to Instagram and it sends a copy to Twitter then only a link appears, Twitter doesn’t display your image in the tweet. The reason is because Instagram does not support ‘Twitter cards’(1) but you can(2) bypass this by using the third party service IFTTT (If This, Then That) to get around it and display images correctly. Once you upload a new image to Instagram it will get tweeted out and display as a picture (note that it won’t work in cases where you write a tweet and include an Instagram link).

Be aware that if you have ‘post to Twitter’ switched on on your Instagram account then you may end up with two copies of the tweet – one directly from Instagram with no image (the wrong one), and the one via IFTTT with the image (the new and improved version). You can safely switch off the Instagram one (see my image below of my settings).

You will need, and to be logged into

  • a Twitter account
  • an Instagram account
  • an IFTTT account

Once logged into IFTTT visit this recipe(3) page Tweet your Instagrams as native photos and follow the instructions to ‘connect’ your Twitter (https://ifttt.com/twitter) and Instagram (https://ifttt.com/instagram) accounts – IFTTT refers to these as ‘channels’.

ifttttwitter

This will allow your Twitter and Instagram accounts can talk to each other independently, through IFTTT.

Once done it should look a bit like this and when you post an image to Instagram and it should turn up on your Twitter timeline with the picture appearing.

0000ifftttwitterinsta

It worked… [if you’re viewing on a mobile it will probably look as if it didn’t, but it did!]

Note that these are my settings on Instagram – it says that I have Twitter-sharing switched off, which is true, but the IFTTT recipe is now overriding this.

photo.PNG

(1)Twitter cards are basically a display-format that websites can sign up to so that pictures embed and display on Twitter as an image rather than as a link that you have to click on. The IFTTT system uploads the image to Twitter as a (usually hidden, but may show on mobile apps as a pic.twitter link and also provides a link back to the original Instagram (that link will show as iff.tt).

(2)However you might prefer that people click on the link so that your Instagram account gets the relevant metrics and you might also prefer that Twitter isn’t further overrun with images 🙂

(3)There are other examples of recipes that will also perform this function, have a search of the options and see what’s on there.

Downloading your old Twitter faves, setting up IFTTT to capture new ones

Table of Contents

  1. Capturing old favourites
  2. Capturing new favourites ‘going forwards’
  3. Useful background info

1. Capturing old favourites
To download your already-liked favourites do the following

  1. Log into Twitter
  2. Go to tweetbook.in and authorise it to access your account
  3. Select a time range, choose Favorites and create your PDF e-book of your favourited tweets

If you have as many favourites as I have (3,502 over 7 years, oops) you probably won’t be able to get them all in one go (2012 alone yielded a 134 page PDF!) but you have the option of trying to grab them all at once.

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-13-53-41

Fig 1. Authorise Tweetbook.in with Twitter

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-13-55-31

Fig 2. Pick a date range… or leave blank to pick all (it may fail if you have lots)

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-14-08-59

Fig 3. Once your tweetbook is ready the green ‘Download’ button will appear

The output
Each page of the PDF has only a handful of tweets on it (it’s not very efficient) but the timestamp is hyperlinked so you can search for a tweet (Ctrl+F or Command+F to search within any document) and then find the original on Twitter.

Caution: I don’t know if it will display only public tweets that you’ve followed or, because you’ve logged in, if it can pick up any tweets from locked (private) accounts that you follow. Be aware that if you publishly share the contents you might be sharing tweets that people want kept private.

2. Capturing new favourites ‘going forwards’
You can use an IFTTT recipe so that every time you click favourite / like on a tweet it will be saved in some way of your choosing – for example you might use a Google spreadsheet to capture the tweet, or email it to yourself.

To do this… do this

  1. Log in to Twitter and Google Drive / Gmail*
  2. Visit IFTTT and create an account.
  3. This is an example of a recipe you can use:
    Twitter Likes (Favorites) to Google Spreadsheet (other recipe options available*)
  4. You’ll be taken through the steps of connecting your Google Drive as one ‘channel’ and your Twitter  account as another channel – this allows your Twitter account to save your favourites to a Google Drive spreadsheet directly (you don’t need to set that up, it happens automatically).
  5. Favourite a tweet then go and visit your Google Drive and you’ll find a new spreadsheet created with your favourite in. After 1,000 tweets the system will create a fresh spreadsheet (same name with ‘1’ appended, and so on).

*or Evernote, or some other capturing system, examples here and here

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-16-54-01

3. Useful background info
Favouriting a tweet does not trap it permanently – if the original is deleted then you do not have a copy of it so ‘post-favouriting-processing’ would be necessary to capture it.

Other ways to capture a tweet include

  • taking a screenshot (it can be helpful to include its address / URL)
  • embedding it in a blog or Storify (in both cases subsequent deletion of the original won’t matter as your copy will remain)
  • use Freezepage to capture a copy of the ‘page’ on which the tweet appears (you need to use the tweet’s own address – you can find this in its timestamp – and remove the S from the httpS bit of the address

I’ve written a short post on ‘forensic’ use of Twitter (where you’re collecting someone’s tweets for legal reasons) but note that I’m not a lawyer so bear that in mind.

Further reading
Capturing web pages (remember a tweet IS a web page as it has its own address!) – Nightingale Collaboration

 

Instagram pictures don’t show on Twitter (don’t autopreview) – no idea why

Update 23 October 2016: There’s a pretty easy to implement workaround using IFTTT. Full instructions here: How to display Instagram pictures correctly in tweets using IFTTT.

Update 26 April 2016: Thanks to @thameswatch who pointed me to a December 2012 (!) article explaining that Instagram pics haven’t been shown in-tweet since then, and explains the reasons behind it.


 

If you share a picture on Twitter from Instagram… it doesn’t show up as a picture on Twitter. I’ve no idea why that should be.

You need to click the link to go to the Instagram website to see the picture there and not as an autopreview on Twitter. I find this reasonably odd as I thought Twitter and Instagram were best buds but perhaps not. I’m fairly sure Flickr images autopreview, as do animated gifs, Vines etc (remember you can switch off autoplay) and YouTube videos.

You can see this in action by looking at the @Instagram feed which includes links to Insta images, none of which show up (other images on their feed do show up but these were uploaded directly to Twitter and are pic.twitter or other autopreviewing services).

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 22.02.32

All the instagram.com/ links are pictures but they don’t show up as such (I’ve tried on desktop browser Twitter, Twitter for iPhone, Echofon for iPhone and Janetter).

By contrast here’s a Vine, showing up perfectly well

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 22.13.33.png

Here’s a tweet I sent with a picture that I uploaded to Twitter via my phone, it shows up fine (because I’d not used Instagram, though I did add it to my Insta account).

Anyone know why? Seems a bit of a mystery.

Opting out of Twitter’s 3rd party community-building apps

There are a number of services that tell you how many followers you’ve gained this week, or that suggest people to follow etc. While these might be very useful for you or your company, in terms of building your network and getting an idea of various metrics, some of the services also send automatic thank you tweets to other people that have engaged with you. Many people find these types of tweets exceptionally irritating, I am one of them.

People who are not using the apps themselves are receiving tweets from those who are using them, but the senders are often unaware that the apps are sending out these types of tweet.

Twitter has best practice guidelines for apps that send automated replies.

“Users must also have a clear and easy way to opt-out of receiving automated reply messages and mentions from your application.” – Automation rules and best practices | Twitter Help Center (updated 7 April)

If someone you interact with uses commun.it, for example, then you might receive an automated tweet from them thanking you for following, RTing, engaging, or being a ‘top influencer’. Often these tweets are not sent as standard reply to you only, but sent as public tweet (to all their followers and with several people mentioned) thereby maximising its reach. Each tweet includes a link to commun.it’s website advertising its product in the hope that others will sign up. I’m honestly surprised that Twitter permits this sort of thing – unsolicited automated replies sent to large numbers of users advertising services. Commun.it is probably the worst spammer but there are several others.

If you’ve received an unwanted tweet via one of these services below you should be able to opt out with these instructions. You don’t need to create an account with them in order to opt out, if you don’t want their users to tweet you through their service they should honour that.

If it’s your account that’s sending stuff out…

Log into the desktop version of Twitter and go to your Settings > Apps page and revoke the app, then change your password. If that doesn’t work then you may need to visit the App’s website and see if you can edit settings on your ‘account’ (often generated automatically once you’ve authorised the app, so log in with Twitter). If that fails search for the name of the app on Twitter and see if there’s a customer services person (eg @Linkishelp for Linkis).

  • c0nvey (note, spelled with the number zero) – appears to use Linkis
  • Linkis or Link.is – read this excellent guide by @kevwyke on how to stop this parasitical linking system. If you authorise it it will add ‘link.is/’ to every link you send out, which encourages other people to sign up and authorise it and so on. Pointless spam.

If someone else’s account is sending you stuff…

If you’ve signed up to use one of these services and have since thought better of it then you can revoke the app’s permission to use your account in the app bit of your settings.