Blocking Rogue Twitter Accounts

As I have said before running a Twitter account attracts crazy people, running a Masonic themed Twitter account attracts that special kind of crazy person. These people seem to have nothing more important to do with their lives than to set up so called parody accounts.

But why do they do it? There appear to be three primary motivations:

  1. Trolling
  2. Building a massive network of followers that they “influence”
  3. Spewing Pornographic material

Trolls

The first group are best avoided as they typically set out to annoy or worse, antagonise or attack their target. These accounts typically spew misinformation, falsehoods or downright lies. A good example of this is SavileLodgethe @savilelodge account which purports to be associated with Masonic Lodge 616 (it is fake, check the UGLE Directory of Lodges and Chapters), and the disgraced performer Jimmy Savile. Looking at its recent output shows a catalogue of tweets suggesting that a number of recently disgraced performers are/were Freemasons. I have covered handling trolls in a previous post.

“Influencers”

InfluencerThe second group are less aggressive but no less annoying. They are typified by the host of accounts associated with James Grimaldi all of which encourage you to “follow back in 24 hours for a 10x shout out” and “include #NYG”. I have blocked 19 accounts which bear the hallmarks of this approach.

These accounts are a honey trap for the novice tweeter seeking to build their own network out. However, all you really achieve is a long list of fake followers. These accounts are used by their owners to build a network of thousands that they can then publish tweets to, for money. As their worth to anyone foolish enough to employ them for this purpose is based on the number of accounts that follow them, they only care that you follow them.

BlockedaccountsMy advice to you with regard to this second group is that you avoid them or better yet block them. I am gradually building a list of these accounts as a Twitter list associated with the @HungerfordLodge Twitter account. I have imaginatively called it Blocked accounts and it is public so that anyone reading this article can subscribe to it and use it to protect themselves. In return, all I ask is that you Direct Message me with any accounts that you think should be added to that list so that in turn all subscribers benefit from the update. I will of course have to wade through these recommendations to check that they are genuine. This is my way of paying it forward – if you get chance, see this film, it impacted my philosophy for life.

Updated (04/01/16)

Two things have occurred to me since I wrote this post:

  1. My Twitter list idea only works for a very small number of blocked accounts because it is manual and time consuming
  2. People will believe that simply by subscribing to my Twitter list that they will themselves be blocking the accounts – I am sorry to say  that you will not. In order to block these accounts you will need to manually add them to your block list.

To automatically add accounts to your block list you need to use the Block Together service described below. You will need to follow this link and subscribe to my block list. Once you do this, every time I block an account it will automatically be added to your block list.

Pornographers

As to the pornographers, what motivates them? Well, it can only be website traffic. If you see an image that makes you want to visit their website for more then they increase their chances of either:

  1. Getting you to pay to subscribe
  2. Infecting your computer with malicious code so that it is no longer “your” computer.

How you view the subject of pornography is down to your own moral compass. I typically display my Twitter streams (multiple accounts) using TweetDeck on a 24″ monitor in my study where my pre-teen children come to see what Daddy is up to. Having a stream of pornography on screen would lead to awkward discussions both with them and my wife. To illustrate my point my 8 year old son came in whilst I was writing this post.

Dealing with the problem

As I have already suggested, the only real answer is to block these accounts as you become aware of them.

Blocked users cannot:

  • Follow you.
  • Send Direct Messages to you.
  • View your Tweets, following or followers lists, photos, videos, lists or favorites when logged in.
  • Add your Twitter account to their lists.
  • Tag you in a photo.
  • Tweets from blocked users will not appear in your timeline. However, note that Tweets from others that mention blocked users may appear in your timeline (for example, if you follow that user) or your notification timeline (if a Tweet mentions you).

On an individual account basis, you block an account by

  1. in the iOS (iPhone and iPad) app, tap on a tweet from the offending account. If using the web client on a PC, click rather than tap.
  2. Open their profile by tapping on their picture
  3. Tap the gear icon and select Block

Block Together

(Updated 30/12/15)

After this article was originally published, MASK NOIR made me aware of Block Together. Before I included it here, I did some background investigation. Block Together was written by Jacob Hoffman-Andrews of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and allows users to easily share their Twitter block lists. Jacob is not affiliated with Twitter in any way, he is a Senior Staff Technologist at the EFF and is involved in some pretty cool technologies. I, therefore, feel comfortable in using this tool. If you do not, I have provided a more manual approach below but the block list will not be as up to date as using Block Together.

I have created my share which will automatically update here If you subscribe to my block list, you will block every account currently on that list. Later, if I as the author of that block list block more accounts, you will automatically block those as well. If I unblock an account, you will automatically unblock it too, but only if you originally blocked it through the shared list. If you blocked the account independently, it will not be unblocked.

However, please note Block Together will never block an account you follow so if you have already chosen to follow one of the accounts I have blocked you will continue to follow them.

Twitter Bulk Import

It is possible to add accounts in bulk using a .csv file. Download my Blocklist (Updated 29/12/15). The most up to date list will always be the the one hosted by Block Together as it is automatically generated.

  1. First save the file to your computer. Due to restrictions on file types I can share via this website you need to rename the file type from xls to csv before you can upload it to Twitter.
  2. Navigate to your blocked account settings on twitter.com.
  3. Click the Advanced options drop-down menu.
  4. Select Import a list.
  5. In the pop-up, click on the paperclip icon and find the .csv file. Click Open to import the list.
  6. The file name will be displayed when the file has been successfully imported.
  7. Click Preview. The list of the accounts will be displayed. You can deselect any accounts you do not wish to block (accounts that you currently follow will be automatically unchecked).
  8. Click Block to confirm.
    The imported accounts will be added to your block list.

Summary

Twitter is a wonderful conduit for communicating with like-minded people across  the globe. However, as with any of the social media platforms and indeed any group of people in the physical world, it has its miscreants. I am not setting out to police the Internet, far from it, I am simply trying to give people the tools to handle other people’s behaviour.

If my work helps you, share it with your friends and follow the Lodge on Twitter and Facebook. You might also consider leaving me a comment – due to the special kind of crazy people we attract, I moderate all comments, so it might not appear immediately.

If you are not a Freemason and found your way here by the magic of Google, please read the rest of the site and consider whether what you thought you knew about Freemasonry is valid.

If you are a Freemason, why not visit us one day or invite me to your Lodge.

© Hungerford Lodge 4748

Author: Hungerford Lodge

A Lodge of Freemasons meeting 6 times a year in the Newbury Masonic Centre. 3rd Tuesday October, November (Installation), February, March, April & 2nd Tues December. Consecrated September 1925.

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