Monthly Archives: January 2012

A Place To Get Help

Having a problem with Twitter? Leave a comment below (and send us a tweet telling us you have left a comment) and we’ll read and respond!

If we’ve asked you to provide details here, you MUST do that (and stop tweeting us). We can’t help you without more details first.

BUT: We won’t respond if you don’t provide some details. We just need you to do two things:

  1. Tell us what app or website you are using (e.g Twitter.com or Twitter for iPhone, etc.).
  2. Be very specific in describing the problem. Include URLs to make it clear where the problem is if using Twitter.com. Don’t say things like “I can’t see my tweets!”

If you don’t provide those details, we may not be able to help, so please take a moment to be clear.

If we need the details of the phone or computer you’re using when the problem happens click here to see the details of your system to paste into your comment.

Working With Twitter

Although we’ve helped thousands of people, realize that we don’t work for Twitter, but we will help you if can.

You may need to create a ticket to get Twitter to help you. If you do, it’s crucial that you read about how to work with Twitter’s ticket system. If you already have a Twitter ticket, be sure to read about how to work with Twitter’s ticket system right now, before leaving us a comment.

Confusingly, it may be critical that you DO NOT create a new ticket, or it may be critical that you DO create a new ticket, so be sure to read about how to work with Twitter’s ticket system if you haven’t already. As

At it says there, use Twitter’s online system, not email or tweets, to contact Twitter. You will get an email you must respond to. You must NOT create multiple tickets. We can’t do anything to help you in working with Twitter except help with problems we know solutions for—of which there are many—or help you manage working with Twitter’s help system.

Why This Page?

I’m providing this page so that if you need more room than a tweet allows to describe your problem, you’ll have plenty of space :-)

Why send a tweet too? Because we see tweets quicker than we see blog comments. But we’ll see your comment even if you never send us a tweet.

C’mon Twitter! Quit Leaving Direct Messages Vulnerable To Spam

Spam is probably Twitter’s biggest problem. 

But as it is now, instead of making it easy to identify the more spammy type of Twitter accounts, Twitter is actually hiding that information from you!

Hey, Twitter: Quit Protecting Spammers!

Wouldn’t you want to know before following someone if they spammed everyone that follows them with an advertising message?

But currently, if someone sends a DM spam to everyone that follows them, you have no way of knowing! And so you follow someone who seems nice…and you get spammed. Again.

If you follow someone, they can direct message (DM) you. If Twitter made the additional requirement that you must also have sent them a tweet at least once before they can DM you, DM spam would be cut way, way back.

This would mean spammers would be forced to send their spams by tweet instead of DM, and tweets can be seen publicly. So this is not only a spam prevention method, it’s a spam identification method. Spammers couldn’t hide their spam messages any more!

Alternatively, Twitter could simply add a “let them DM me” feature instead of making it automatic. But this would be confusing, and take a lot of effort if you had to do it for each person.

Dealing Five Large Setbacks To Twitter Spammers

This one simple change would have HUGE effects:

  1. It would be much harder to hijack accounts. Right now, 99% of hijackings start as DMs that send you to a page that tries to trick you into entering your password (usually by looking like a Twitter login page). When someone you follow is hijacked, their accounts starts sending out these phishing DMs, trying to hijack accounts. In this scenario,  if they can’t DM you, they can’t hijack your account.
  2. Spammers would be stopped cold from the tactic of following people, to get follow backs in order to send DM spam.
  3. Spammers would get far fewer followers, because their spam messages would be seen publicly, instead of hidden as DMs. They could no longer pretend to be “just folks” publicly while sending tons of spam to everyone that follows them.
    This would send a big signal to Twitter’s spam-identification algorithm—spammers get fewer followers and are more visible due to needing to spam more publicly—so Twitter could suspend them faster.
  4. One of spammers biggest sources of income would be hit hard, since the auto-follow, auto-DM software would no longer work. Currently, spammers create other spammers by selling this software, telling you to use it to auto-follow people, and then spamming the people that follow you back by DM.
  5. Block automated spam DMs. Spammers create tons of Twitter accounts automatically, have them tweet automatically, and send their spam automatically by DM. This means one person can create thousands of spam accounts, but none of it works if they can’t send spam! While stopping auto-DMs doesn’t stop spam, for all the reasons listed above it makes spamming much, much harder to automate and profit from.

To the ignorant and greedy, Twitter has long looked like a spam paradise, because they can hide the spam they send so no one knows they are a spammer. Twitter needs to put a stop to this.

Make DMs Useful Again

Many long-time Twitter users publicly state that they don’t read their DMs, because they are so inundated with spam. @ChrisBrogan even said he would quit Twitter if Twitter didn’t let him unfollow everyone so he could get rid of all the DM spam.

And this wouldn’t change the way DMs are already useful: you connect with someone you follow via tweets, then you switch to DMs to continue your conversation. This would still work automatically, since you follow them and have sent them a tweet.

Spam is killing Twitter, DMs are badly broken, and Twitter needs to to act soon to fix things.

Make Twitter Twice As Useful

By putting spammers on the run by making DMs protected and useful again, Twitter could them use DMs to open up collaboration by allowing them to be longer than 140 characters.  This isn’t as radical as it sounds. Tweets would still be limited to 140 characters.

Why Even Twitter Won’t Use Twitter

If you make a support request to Twitter, they reply via email. Twitter is a communication system that not even Twitter wants to use when they have to collaborate with users! There’s a word for that: broken.

For the rest of use, to collaborate usually means exchanging private emails, and ends up splitting the collaboration: some of the information is on Twitter, some of it is in emails. By letting DMs run a little longer, people could keep their whole conversation on Twitter, and avoid the awkward security issue of whether to give out your email to someone.

A Wide Variety of Benefits

I regularly get 3-5 DMs in a row from people trying simply to explain a question they have. And the people that don’t often don’t include enough information for me to help them, and I have to ask for more information.

This would also make it easier to “attach” files. Now, you have to link to whatever files you want share, but the links use up the room needed for communication. By letting DMs be a little longer, you could include several links and still have room.

Test show that people rarely need more than 500 characters for emails (that is, if you limit them to 500, as the ShortMail service does, most people still get things done in one email). That is about the length of three-and-a-half tweets, and in my experience, would eliminate 99% of the multiple DMs we receive as @TweetSmarter when helping people.

It would also allow you to really share key content, instead of forcing people off to a link to search through an article. You could excerpt key points from a blog post, for example, without forcing people to go to a link and dig through it to find the data you want to share with them.

You could compare things in a single DM, such as a brief summary of three apps with a link to each. You could provide tech support, by having enough room to write down detailed instructions.

Twitter could charge more for this service if they wanted, or could simply roll it out initially to their advertising partners as an additional benefit.

Summary

What do you think?

Is it time for Twitter to stop letting spammers hide their spam and send it to anyone that follows them? Would Twitter be more useful if your DM inbox had less spam, and was easier to use for collaboration? Leave a comment and let us know!

Twitter’s New Direction In 2012

Twitter has long had one of the greatest assets on the internet: knowing what information is hot right now. But while many companies pay to receive and search Twitter’s stream of tweets for such diverse uses as predicting the stock market and finding flu outbreaks, Twitter itself has never done much with it.

That is about to change.

With today’s purchase of Summify, and the long-lasting rumors that Twitter may purchase Flipboard from Twitter board member Mike McCue, Twitter is preparing a wholly new service for users: Finding and delivering information relevant to you in real time.

Twitter: Your Smart Assistant?

Both Summify and Flipboard use smart learning algorithms to produce collections of information personalized to you. And both have strong followings, proving that they’re onto something.

Twitter goal is likely nothing short of replacing some of the news and search resources you use now. For an example of other services besides Summify and Flipboard that Twitter may emulate to a degree think of a personalized version of Newser, LinkedInToday or NewsWhip. Or, as one report put it: “[This] Could Turn Twitter Into Your Newspaper.”

Twitter could potentially offer a personalized dashboard of information that you customize, perhaps even including email and texts to create a single page on the internet for most of your information needs. And even if Twitter doesn’t offer such a dashboard itself, they could expand their API to help other services be created that could do so.

 

Twitter Suspending New Spammers Faster Than Ever

In 2012, changes made to Twitter’s spam account identification algorithm have been catching and suspending some new Twitter spam accounts more rapidly—sometimes much more rapidly—than in 2011.

  More users than ever before are reporting that as fast as they can check new accounts that appear to be spam they have already been suspended. This sometimes creates confusion, as Twitter does not always report “Account Suspended” but sometimes “Account Does Not Exist,” leading to the question “If they don’t exist, how did they follow and tweet me?”

Despite the occasional confusion, this is a great achievement, as Twitter is working to put in a place a system that stops spam in realtime as it happens. Eventually, Twitter’s goal is to predict spam before it happens.

How To Know Instantly Whenever Key Accounts Tweet

There can be real benefit in monitoring key accounts to know immediately when they are tweeting:

  1. In an emergency situation, receiving updates from key emergency service accounts;
  2. If you are reporting on a breaking news situation, receiving updates from key accounts live-tweeting the situation;
  3. If you are trying to get the attention of someone, know immediately when they are sending tweets so you can tweet them at a time your tweet may be seen (you’ll still have to figure out if their tweets are scheduled or live, however);
  4. If you’re trying to assist someone over a specific time period, such as by being a super advocate for them, it’s often beneficial to keep up with their Twitter activity so you can respond quickly where appropriate;
  5. Etc.

Additionally, if you choose to monitor account(s) by receiving their tweets via email, you get a searchable record or all tweets that you can access easily from any computer, since most email services have an easy-to-access webmail interface.

While there are several approaches to doing this, I’m going to avoid the ones that rely on Twitter search results. That would typically be where you would use an app an enter a search for “from:username” (without the quotes) where “username” is the name of their account. For example, to see our tweets, you would search for “from:tweetsmarter” (without the quotes). However, Twitter search is unreliable, so I don’t recommend methods that rely on it.

Start Monitoring Key Accounts in Three Simple Steps

There is a much simpler approach that will allow you to receive the tweets of your target account(s) via SMS or email. Click the links in the steps below for more information.

If you want to do your monitoring by SMS (text messages sent to your mobile phone), simply follow the steps below. If you want to receive the tweets from the account(s) you’ll be monitoring by email, you’ll need to have your SMS messages delivered via email. A simple way to do this is to set up a Google Voice account (if you don’t already have one) and have the SMS messages sent to it by enabling Google Voice Text Messaging to email.

1. Follow Them!

The first step is to follow the account(s) that you want to monitor, either from your own account, or from a new Twitter account you’ve created specifically to monitor them. To create a new account, simply log out at Twitter.com, and click the links and fill out fields to create a new account. (Caution: Do not create more than 1-2 accounts every few days. Twitter will suspend accounts if you create too many to quickly, although there is no absolute limit to how many you can have. So if you have to create other accounts for some purpose, be sure to create no more than a few per week.)

2. Enable SMS Notifications

Set up your account to receive Tweets via SMS from people you follow.

3. Set To ONLY Receive Tweets From Key Account(s)

Next, turn OFF receiving updates by sending only the word “OFF” to your Twitter shortcode, which will turn all updates off. Finally, turn updates on ONLY for the accounts you want to monitor by sending “ON username” to your Twitter code for each username you want to monitor and receive tweets for.

Use Your Own Account, Or Start A New One? SMS or Email Notifications?

In most cases you can simply use your own account and monitor by receiving text messages of all tweets from the accounts you are monitoring.

As previously mentioned, receiving via email has the advantage of providing you a searchable record or all tweets that you can access easily from any computer.

Other than not wanting the accounts to know you are following them (for whatever reason you feel you need to be stealthy), using a second account really just provides you more flexibility. It means you can use your main account for SMS notifications, and the second account for email notifications, for example.

Should Twitter Go Offline To Protest SOPA? No.

There is a scale of how important an communication method is. At the top are emergency services, which can literally save lives.

Twitter and phones are both life-saving services when used for emergency services. Because of that, neither should be taken offline for any reason.

But Twitter has other important uses in the sharing of real-time information. Many real-time reporting services, such as crime, weather and traffic reporting, are built on it. For some people in some situations, removing Twitter could have a serious negative impact, even if not life-threatening.

So taking Twitter offline should not be compared with taking Wikipedia or Reddit offline, for example. While all three allow real-time changes, Twitter is heavily relied upon for real-time emergency services, Wikipedia and Reddit much, much less so.

Not even Wikipedia’s founder thinks Twitter should go offline:

How to get Twitter.com to show you more tweets when you page down

Since Twitter regularly increases and decreases the number of tweets you can see on Twitter.com to help limit network traffic, sometimes you’ll only be able to see a very limited number of tweets, sometimes even only one page’s worth. Try this tip to see more:

We experimented saving pages of tweet results in some tests over several weeks, and saw that this tip was VERY consistent:

Twitter.com will usually show you more pages if you HOLD DOWN the page down key on your keyboard CONTINUOUSLY until the page stops scrolling. For some reason, holding it down almost always shows you more pages than scrolling down, or than by pressing page down once, pausing, pressing again, etc.