Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

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Monday, 8 October 2012

Easy ways to see the tweets of someone who's blocked you on Twitter

Edit - 1 July 2016: This post is now out of date and superseded by this one from 15 June after Twitter updated its block function Twitter's new update - blocked people can still see your tweets, but it is harder.

Briefly, official Twitter apps are much better at stopping you from seeing the tweets of someone who has blocked you, or stopping them from seeing yours. But of course you / they can still log out (or use a private browser tab) and Echofon for iPhone and (I hear) Twicca for Android still let you / them see blocked tweets in search results. Incidentally the subject of the original post below, from whom I initially learned quite a lot about the way the block works on Twitter was fined £19,000 under the Cancer Act 1939 and now has a criminal conviction. Whoops.

Original post

Errol Denton, who has had numerous Advertising Standards Authority adjudications upheld against claims made about his products and services (see below) has blocked me on Twitter for asking him not to tweet about curing cancer and other conditions. I don't think I was particularly rude about this, but sometimes people don't like it when other people point out that they're doing something wrong. A few other people also suggested he might want to ease up on that style of tweeting and he's blocked them too.

There are several easy ways of reading the tweets of someone who's blocked you, here are some suggestions.

1. Log out. Once logged out Twitter doesn't know you're you and will show you the person's tweets if you go to their profile. This is also the simplest strategy to find out if someone's blocked you: if you can't see when logged in but can see when logged out you're probably blocked.

An alternative is to view the profile in a different browser (saves logging out!) or log into a different unblocked account. Errol's tweets are at

2. Search for their name, either ErrolDenton or @ErrolDenton and you'll see most of the tweets easily.

The addresses in full (if you want to swap for the name of someone else who's blocked you):

3. View the RSS of the tweets - this will work until Twitter ends support for RSS on 5 March 2013 (Twitter announced this itself on its developers' blog). Twitter's just killed off this old-style RSS feed URL

The RSS means you can do other things though - you can capture them in an RSS reader (I've found the inbuilt "Opera mail" RSS reader in the Opera browser is brilliant for this) if you need to refer to them.

You can also set up an alternative Twitter account and 're-import' the RSS feed of the person's tweets into the newly created account with the IFTTT service (RSS trigger >> Twitter action). The chances are high that Twitter will shut down the fake account but it's an option to keep in reserve.

I could also add a new javascript / html widget to my blog and import his tweets into my blog, but I don't think I'll rush to do that!

Errol's simplest option is to make his account private - that solves the problem completely. He's presumably no longer breaking the law by making public claims about curing cancer. I (and the ASA etc) would no longer be able to see his tweets so wouldn't be able to complain about them.

The difficulty is that no-one else (unless they're following him) would be able to see his tweets which doesn't do much for his advertising. And of course it's possible that the people following him drop him in it either by manually retweeting one of his tweets or replying to them (and giving something away in their reply).

Twitter doesn't do 'blocks' very well. I actually think it's a big problem that they've just not solved very well and I'm not sure that they can solve it (short of making no tweet visible to anyone unless you're logged in to the system - this may well happen when they've killed off RSS, although that would be a bad idea for different reasons). Of course the alternative then would be to follow someone using a spare account.

Errol's adjudications were for:
  • Claims made on a leaflet advertising his website and Harley Street services. I later discovered, from a Radio 4 investigation into his activities, that you can book Harley Street rooms by the hour.
  • Claims made for a product called liquid chlorophyll, available via one of his websites (
  • Claims made by Groupon on behalf of Errol for a reduced price session of nutritional microscopy.
  • Claims made on another of his websites (
His company, Fitalifestyle, is now listed on the Advertising Standards Authority's website as a non-compliant advertiser - ie someone who persistently ignores their requests for information, evidence and who doesn't amend their adverts when asked. I understand that he has other ongoing investigations from Trading Standards but I don't know the progress of these.

Further reading
Josephine Jones' blog - she has reported on Errol several times and we 'met' each other by discovering through blog searches that we'd both put in complaints to the ASA. Here are her posts tagged with Errol Denton.

My more detailed blog post on What happens if you block someone on Twitter? What happens if they block you? - I wrote this in June 2012 and it's had nearly 18,000 views almost all from Google searches. My blog isn't really used to such interest, most of my posts only get 100 reads in their lifetime, but everyone seems to be terribly interested in blocking and evading blocks.

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