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.

Did they send that tweet themself, or use automated software?

Desktop Twitter no longer includes information about what client / platform / application etc was used to send the tweet, which removes a tiny bit of information about how the tweet was sent. Normally you’d never need to know (or care) but sometimes it might be useful to know if someone was sitting at their computer and hand-typing in the tweet, or if the tweet had previously been scheduled to be sent at a particular time.

Knowing this info might be useful in a vaguely forensic setting, but I have no idea if the evidence would be admissible in an actual court. It cannot prove who logged in to the account and typed the tweet of course, but may be useful in building a picture of how Twitter was being used by the account.

Echofon for iPhone is both a free and paid-for app on iphones that will tell you what application was used to send any tweet, Fenix is an equivalent for Android phones (hat tip @bitoclass & @skepticosaurus). You can click on any tweet and it will appear on its own page with info at the bottom saying ‘Via XYZ’.

  • Via Echofon obviously means the sender is also a user of that app.
  • Via Twitter for iPhone or iPad tells you they typed it in using an iPhone and the official Twitter app.
  • Via Twitter Web Client tells you that they used a desktop browser to type the tweet by hand. UntilĀ  recently it was also possible for someome to ‘fake’ this by downloading theĀ  Chrome browser and send a tweet from there using their phone. The tweet was sent by phone but would show up as being sent from the desktop version. However Twitter’s now changed its settings and this is currently, or no longer, possible.
  • Via Buffer tells you that the tweet was scheduled for future posting
  • Via WordPress.com or other blog tells you that the tweet has been sent on the publication of a blog post (which may itself have been scheduled in advance)

See also Forensic Twitter.