Tag Archives: twitter

Social media: privacy and implied permission

Occasionaly I receive notification that someone has started following me on Twitter or has befriended me on some other social media service; but on visiting their profile I find that their updates are protected and I need to request permission to see them.

While I accept that people may want to keep their updates private I don’t understand the rationale behind it. Why would you want to join a microblogging service like Twitter, yet not make what you’re publishing public? If you’re using it to broadcast something not quite legal, why draw attention to yourself by creating a profile at all? If you’re simply paranoid about privacy, then perhaps you should reconsider your involvement in social media and stick to something more private, like e-mail.

The point I want to make relates to not being able to see updates from someone that has followed or befriended me. My feelings are that the act of you following or befriending me should implicitly, and automatically, grant me the rights to follow or befriend you without me needing to ask you for additional permission to do so.

What happened to the fail whale?

Looks like twitter have done away with the fail whale.  Now there’s a caterpillar and an ice-cream.


Since posting last night on how to synchronise Plurk and Twitter, I have come across ping.fm, a service that lets you post in one place and have your post delivered to a variety of other services, including not only Plurk and Twitter but many others too.

Go and check them out and sign up if you’re interested.  They’re in closed beta so you will need a beta code to be able to register.  You can use landofping.

How to synchronise your plurks and tweets

So you’ve seen that people are synchronising their posts to Plurk and Twitter and you’re wondering how to do it. Look no further.

Jason Adams has posted a Python script that does exactly that, posting your tweets as plurks and your plurks as tweets. I have passed this info on in Twitter and Plurk but have had a couple of less techie types come back and ask just how to use it; so here is a description. Please note that this assumes you are using Windows and things may be rather different if you use Mac OS X or Linux.

Go to python.org and download the Windows installer from the link on the left of the page.

Right-click the python-2.5.2.msi file once it has downloaded, select Install and got through the steps to install; choosing the defaults is fine.

Once you have Python installed, go to Jason’s Plurk your tweets page and download the plurk.py script file. Remember the folder you saved it to. For the sake of this example we’ll assume that you saved it to C:\Utils.

Open a command window and change to the folder you saved the plurk.py file to (C:\Utils).

cd \utils

Now you are ready to run the script, which takes your Twitter and Plurk credentials as parameters. Assuming that your Twitter user name is t_usr, your Twitter password is t_pwd, your Plurk user name is p_usr and your Plurk password is p_pwd; run the command as follows.

plurk.py t_usr t_pwd p_usr p_pwd

The script will now run and takes a while the first time, but subsequent runs will be quicker. The first time you run it the last ten or so plurks and tweets will be synchronised and the state of synchronisation will be stored in the plurkdb.dat file in the same folder as plurk.py. In future it will be used to ensure that only new tweets and plurks are synchronised so it is important that you move it too if you ever decide to move plurk.py to another folder.

I hope that this answers your questions; otherwise leave a comment and I’ll try and provide further assistance.

Twitter: Who Do You Block?

It seems to me that there are several types of accounts/people that might follow you on Twitter.

  1. “twiends” have with similar interests to yours and you may wish to reciprocate by following them too.
  2. “twollowers” have a legitimate interest in what you have to say but you have no interest in following what they have to say.
  3. “twollectors” aim appears to be to follow as many people as they can with no apparent regard for commonality of interests.  You probably don’t want to follow them.
  4. “twammers” act like “twollectors” but almost every one of their tweets contain links to the same sort of sites that can be found linked in spam e-mails.  You definitely don’t want to follow these.

“twollectors” and “twammers” are likely to feature on The Twitter Blacklist, which may have a bearing on your decision to block them or not.  If you are a Firefox and Greasemonkey user there is even a Twitter Blacklist script that displays a nice big red banner at the top of a “twacklisted” user’s page.


The question is; which of these do you block?  I have previously always blocked “twammers” and sometimes blocked “twollectors”.  The question is whether there is any advantage to the Twitter community as a whole for them to be blocked.  If you don’t follow them their updates are not seen on your profile page, but they still appear in your list of followers.  Twitter says that blocking someone has the following effect.

  • You will no longer show up in the blocked person’s list of friends.
  • Your updates won’t show up on the blocked person’s profile page.
  • The blocked person will not be able to add you as a friend.

I suppose that there may be some value to your reputation in not being associated with them, in which case you won’t want to appear in their list of friends and not have your updates appear on their profile page.  But is there any tangible value to them if you do appear on their list of friends or you updates are seen on their profile page?

Update (2008-05-01)

First tweets below found with SUMMIZE.