If your account is tweeting without your permission… some suggestions

When I’m logged in to Echofon for iPhone I can see tweets that I’ve sent, or from people I follow or tweets that people have sent to me – and it lets me send tweets too. This means that Echofon must be able to ‘read’ my tweets, including DMs and be able to send on my behalf. When you sign up to use an app it lets you know that it’ll be able to read and send tweets and some people are a bit puzzled by the language, but that’s all it means. It’s rarely sinister.

But sometimes something goes a bit wrong and a rogue app starts sending tweets or DMs on your behalf, or changes your links so that they go to an affiliate page. Or something else might happen that makes you feel your Twitter account isn’t under your control. Here are some ideas for fixing it. Generally you’d need to use the desktop ‘twitter.com’ on a web browser to fix most of these, I’m not sure how good the mobile apps are.

Change your password
Log in to desktop Twitter, change password here https://twitter.com/settings/password

See Twitter’s helpfile: My account has been compromised for more information.

Unauthorise rogue apps
Log in to desktop Twitter and visit your Settings > Applications page where you can see all of the apps you’ve authorised. Pick any that look a bit iffy and revoke them.

See also from Twitter’s help centre: I need help with a third-party app and Connecting or revoking third-party applications

It’s recommended that if you need to de-authorise an app you should change your password too.

Examples of some generally annoying apps
You may have signed up to services like commun.it or SumAll etc to help manage your Twitter account. Note that these often send tweets on your behalf thanking people for engaging or following or retweeting. Many people find these services exceptionally irritating and may unfollow or block you if you send these tweets so it’s best to switch that functionality off, even if you want to keep the service active for finding out about new people to follow etc. Spamming strangers or your followers is a terrible idea.

How did this app tweeting on my behalf happen?
It may be that you clicked on a link in a tweet which took you to a page that looked suspiciously like a log in page for Twitter. By entering your password you’ve given access to your Twitter account to someone else. If your password is very easy to guess then that won’t help either. It could just be that it’s a genuine app but just happens to be a bit spammy.

What else can tweet on my behalf?
If you have a blog you might link it to your social media accounts so that each new post is automatically sent to your Twitter feed, Facebook etc. I don’t have that for this particular blog but do for several others, and it works fine, as long as I’m in charge of the blog. If someone hacks my blog, guesses my password (or if someone who shares the work blog with me gets hacked) then it’s possible that someone could send a tweet via my blog. To be honest I don’t think it happens very often but I’m just exploring the possibilities.

Similarly Pinterest has been known to be spammed by people flogging weight loss nonsense and pinning pictures to people’s accounts which sent a tweet. It would be impossible to list all social media formats that can send an automated tweet, after you gave that service permission initially, but obvious ones include things like Facebook, WordPressTumblr (any blog platform), Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest etc.

If you can’t find the source of the error in your Applications then it may be an account on a service elsewhere that you’ve linked to Twitter which is causing the problem.

Further reading, for people using desktop Twitter in particular
Common twitter.com troubleshooting tips – from Twitter’s help centre.