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 gmx DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Echofon is (sort of) a hacker-tool for Twitter

Echofon is a third party Twitter app which I use, as the free ad-supported version, on an iPhone. I also (primarily) use desktop Twitter on Firefox. Over the years of using both concurrently I've drawn a few conclusions about the differences between the two, which boil down to.

1. Tells you what app or platform someone's used to send a tweet
2. Lets you see the tweets of someone who's blocked you
3. Lets you see the (previously public) tweets of someone who's recently (within 5 days or so) made their account private - I think they might have now fixed this but haven't tested much (8 Dec 2015)

I daresay other apps will let you do these too.

1. What app?
In the tweets below you can see that one says sent 'via Twitter Web Client' which means I sent it from my computer and the other 'via Echofon' which means I sent the tweet from my phone's app.

There probably aren't many times you'd need this information but I have used it in a vaguely 'forensic' sense to help someone strongly indicate that someone else sent a tweet themselves and that it wasn't automated. A big caveat is that the 'via Twitter Web Client' would also appear if I had used the Chrome browser app on my iPhone to send a tweet.

2. See tweets if blocked
I had been blocked by a homeopathy enthusiast for some time, without realising it, because their tweets showed up on the #homeopathy hashtag which I occasionally entertain myself with on desktop Twitter. If I click on their username on desktop it tells me I'm blocked but if I click on their name on Echofon it just shows me all their tweets, followers / following etc. Echofon doesn't appear to distinguish accounts blocking me from accounts not blocking me - I can't favourite or retweet a tweet, but otherwise if I was using only Echofon I'd probably not realise.

On any app or platform (possibly with the exception of Twitter for Android) you can simply search the person's username to see alll of their tweets (and replies. To see only their tweets use from:name). Or log out, of course.

3. See newly locked accounts
This was a new one to me and I only noticed it today. Via Echofon I've spotted a tweet sent 17 hours earlier and another one sent within 48 hours that both showed up in search results, from accounts that have since locked their accounts and which I don't follow. Clicking on the account's name in both cases tells me that I can't see their tweets and that their accounts are private. However searching for from:username brings up what I think are all the tweets they sent before locking their account.

This is probably shortlived and I expect in a few hours or days I won't be able to do this for either of those accounts, assuming that there's some time-restricted window that, once passed, means I won't be able to see any of their tweets (public tweets are also cached by Google so may still be visible until Google re-indexes them, and finds that it can't and removes them). I can't see who they follow or are followed by though.

I can see (on 14 Nov) the tweets sent by someone on 10 Nov before they made their account private. From tweets sent in reply to them later it seems their later tweets don't show up.

Twitter's information about public / private tweets

Free ad-supported Echofon is also very annoying in that it regularly and frequently auto-opens the App Store on the iPhone in an attempt to get you to buy in-app purchases. It did it 7 times in 45s once but that's unusual, it goes through phases of not doing it for ages and then does it once every 20 seconds for a short while. On an iphone quickly double-tap the home button at the bottom to minimise all apps then swipe upwards on the trying-to-open-itself App store. 

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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).