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

Sharing the Load using TweetDeck Teams

Turning the key
Turning the key

Running a Twitter account for your Lodge is a big commitment and it is best done as a team rather than individual effort. Up until now the only way to share a Twitter account was for all users to have the username (@AccountName) and password. This might not be the best way. Whilst we all trust each other as brethren in a Lodge, we might also want to adopt the best practice that we would see in our working lives. One reason for doing this would be so that you can turn on Login verification on your Twitter account which adds an additional layer of security helping to prevent your account being hijacked. After all we know that there are plenty of people who would like to take over a Lodge account and set it to send inappropriate Tweets.

There is now a better approach. As you will know from my previous posts, TweetDeck is my preferred tool for “listening” to Twitter feeds ( I currently run four feeds) for the following reasons:

  1. It is FREE
  2. It is owned and developed by Twitter, therefore it will not get broken when they change something
  3. It does everything that the listening part of other tools does without hiding some bits behind a premium account
  4. Integration with Better TweetDeck gives you access to emoji (emoticons) which other tools make more difficult
  5. Did I mention it is FREE!

TweetDeck is now new and improved with a new feature called TweetDeck Teams.

TweetDeck Teams

This feature enables you to delegate access to other Twitter account holders without having to give them ownership of the account. The following example uses two of my accounts:

  • As the owner of @HungerfordLodge, log in to TweetDeck using the Twitter account credentials and from the navigation bar, select Accounts.
  • Select Team @HungerfordLodge.
  • Type the name of the account(s) you want to have access to@HungerfordLodge
  • Select Authorize and an email will be sent to the account. (For this example, let’s say the user being authorized is @MoonrakerX3).
  • MoonrakerX3 will need to Accept the invitation in TweetDeck to contribute.
  • The email address associated with@HungerfordLodge will receive an email that @MooonrakerX3 has been added to the team.

Twitter have produced a short video to show you how this all works.

Assigning roles to team members

TweetDeck provides for two roles:

Permission Admin Contributor
Tweet from account  Y Y
Build/maintain Lists  Y  Y
Follow/unfollow accounts  Y  Y
Send tweets  Y  Y
Schedule Tweets  Y  Y
View/add/remove team members  Y

In most cases, Contributor will be the appropriate role for your team members.

Only the Twitter account owner can

  • access the account using a tool other than TweetDeck
  • change the credentials or password for the account

Once you have established the team, you should change the password for the account to one that only the account owner knows and establish the login verification.

I hope you find this useful and look forward to your feedback.

© Hungerford Lodge no 4748

Tweet when your audience is listening – When is that?

Turning the key
Turning the key

Tweets fall into two categories:

  1. Tweets that are part of a conversation with your followers – they happen in the moment and then are gone.
  2. Tweets where you are trying to start a conversation or promote content on your website.

Tweets in the first category are time sensitive because they are in the “now”, they are part of a real time conversation and so both reader and writer are online at the same time.

Tweets from the second category, however, are often scheduled and as such you need to predict the best time to find your audience online. This post discusses how you discover the best time to tweet and then how you optimise your tweeting schedule. After all, we cannot spend our lives on Social Media, there is a day job, right?

This is the second post in a series, the first describes how to schedule your tweets.

Tweriod

Tweriod is a web-based analysis tool that will allow you to analyse up to 1,000 followers for free. At the time of writing the @HungerfordLodge account had just over a thousand followers, this therefore is ideal. Should you have more than one thousand  followers, you can either assume that analysing one thousand will give you a good guide, or you will need to purchase a premium plan based on the number of accounts you need to sample.

How does it work?

Tweriod accesses your account’s followers from Twitter and analyses their last 200 tweets. This data is then used to generate a report on when they tweet during the day.

How do you use it?

You authorise Tweriod to gain access to your Twitter account and select the analysis (free or paid) that you wish to receive. This analysis will take a period of time, after which Tweriod will notify you that your results are in. You then sign back into Tweriod and review the results.

So what next?

For me, the beauty of the Tweriod application is that it is integrated with Buffer and as regular readers of this blog will know, I am a big fan of Buffer. There is a button on the analysis page that lets you sync your BufferApp schedule with your Tweriod results.

AddtoBuffer
Sync to Buffer

The free plan allows you to analyse your followers once a month, which is probably enough for most of us. If you are in a big corporate with thousands of followers you will probably have the funds to pay for the premium analysis options anyway. Premium plans start from $3.99 per month for up to 4,999 followers. There does not appear to be an annual pricing strategy.

Followerwonk

Followerwonk is a web-based social media analytics tool that will enable you to  better understand your followers or indeed those of any Twitter account you nominate. It offers much more than activity analysis:

  • Mapped follower locations – like Tweepsmap
  • Active hours of the nominated account’s Followers
  • Active hours of the nominated account
  • Word clouds based on the biographies of the account’s followers
  • Inferred gender
  • and many more.
Map showing followed Twitter accounts
Map showing followed Twitter accounts

It also has an integration with Buffer to enable you to inject your new schedule in the same way as Tweriod.

Followerwonk is a tool within the Moz stable and is primarily targeted at the enterprise market with annual fees for the cheapest plan at $237.

Why do I do any of this?

The combination of Tweriod and Buffer allow me to:

  • Compose and schedule content – Tweets, Facebook and Google+ posts
  • Publish content when my audience is listening
  • Put the content together when I have the time rather than during my work day
  • Spread my content through the day rather than flooding it out in the fifteen minutes that I have to do it

Hopefully, by using the tools and writing blog posts about what I am doing, I can keep my audience engaged and broaden the reach of this site beyond the world’s oldest social network (Freemasonry) and into the mainstream.

If this helps one more person understand what Freemasonry is really all about and persuades them to join then I have surpassed my goal.

© Hungerford Lodge 4748

Managing the Waterfall of Tweets – Using Twitter Lists

Turning the key
Turning the key

If you have a large following on Twitter, you already know that trying to read every tweet is a full time job. Inevitably there will be some people that you interact with more than others and you probably want to pull their tweets out of the flow more easily. The way to achieve this is to create a Twitter List.

Creating a List in Tweetdeck

As previously described, (Better) Tweetdeck is my preferred Twitter monitoring tool on a PC.

To create a new List

Click on the images below to expand them.

  1. Click on the + icon on the left hand barPlus
  2. Click Lists

    Select Lists
  3. Select Create List

    Create List step 3
    Create a new list
  4. If you have multiple Twitter accounts,select the account you wish to associate the List with
  5. Give the List a name and Description
  6. Choose whether you want the list to be
    • Public – people know that you have added them to the List and they can see who else is included

      Name list
      Set the list properties
    • Private – for your eyes only!
  7. Add accounts to your list

    Populate List
    Populate the list
  8. Once created you can set this as a column in Tweetdeck so that only Tweets from accounts in that list are shown in that column

    List as a column
    List as a column in Tweetdeck
  9. As you can see, we maintain a list of Berkshire Masonic Twitter accounts. If you wish to subscribe to this list:
    • Click on Lists when viewing our Twitter profile.
    • Select the BerksMasonic list.
    • From the list page, click Subscribe to follow the list. You can follow lists without following the individual users in that list.

Using the List in Twitter App on your phone

  1. At the bottom of the app tap the Me icon
  2. At the top of the screen tap the Gear Icon
  3. Select Lists from the menu that pops up
  4. You can now use your new list on your phone.

© Hungerford Lodge 4748

Managing Multiple Twitter Accounts

Are you trying to manage multiple Twitter a/cs? Then this first post in the Digital Working Tools series is for you.

Turning the key
Turning the key

Many of us are the “only geek in the Lodge” or worse the only geek in several Lodges, Chapters etc. as a result we end up trying to manage several Twitter accounts.

If, like me, you have multiple Twitter personas, this post is for you. For example, it is not unusual to have:

  • A personal account for keeping up with friends
  • A work account – my employer trains us to tweet as part of the sales and marketing effort
  • A Masonic account – we are all proud Masons but mixing Freemasonry and work can be a problem particularly in the public sector
  • A role to play in our Lodge or Chapter accounts

I have discovered Tweetdeck, a free tool from Twitter that allows you to handle multiple Twitter accounts on screen at the same time. Tweetdeck was originally a third party tool but Twitter liked it so much they bought the company. The beauty of the tool is that all of the features are included in the free version, there is no constant frustration of trying to use a feature only to find that it is part of the premium version.

The tool allows you to add multiple accounts all of which can be visible at the same time – no more switching between accounts.

For example you can set up universal columns – one column that can be set to collate all of the @Mentions or DMs (Direct Messages) coming in from all of your accounts. It becomes like your Twitter inbox saving you from trying to scan across all of the individual columns.

Columns can be easily reordered by dragging them around to adapt to the way you use the tool.

You can schedule tweets to be posted at a future point. Many of us have time to tweet late at night or in the early morning (my insomnia certainly helps with that) but few if any of our followers want to read the tweet then. As Twitter is an “in the moment” medium it is important to schedule tweets when the audience is listening. A future post will look at how to know when is the best time to tweet to get the maximum attention from your followers.

Here is how to schedule a Tweet:

  • Sign in to your TweetDeck account and click New Tweet.
  • Confirm that the Twitter account(s) you would like to tweet from is selected.
  • Compose your Tweet. You can include an image with the Tweet by clicking Add image.
  • Click Schedule Tweet and select the date and time you would like the Tweet posted.
  • Click Schedule Tweet at [date/time].
  • You can view and edit your scheduled Tweets by adding a Scheduled column.

In a future post I will look at the use of another tool, Buffer, to schedule posts across both Facebook and Twitter from the same tool. Tweetdeck lost the ability to work with Facebook when it was bought by Twitter.

There are a host of other useful features included such as:

  • Mute – carry on following an account but stop seeing their tweets. This can be less offensive than unfollowing.
  • List management – lists enable you to monitor subsets of the people that you follow. For example I have created a BerksMasonic list which allows me to keep a track of those accounts.

It is a cross-platform tool with versions available for both Mac and Windows as well as a web version that can be used where you cannot install software. It is fast and automatically refreshes – no need to press a reload button to keep the flow going.

I started using the PC version but then I discovered that one drawback of Tweetdeck is that it does not support the use of emoji or those smiley face icons. If you want this functionality, there is an extension to the Chrome browser called Better TweetDeck that adds this capability but only if you use the website via Chrome. I only hope that Twitter sees this post and buys the function and adds it to the core installable tool.

The amount of data that this tool brings is best viewed on a large screen monitor.

Smartphones

Tweetdeck is not available as an app for your smartphone but the Twitter app for iPhone will allow you to configure multiple independent accounts which you can switch between. You can use your web browser to go to Tweetdeck on the web but the screen is too small to use a tool like Tweetdeck.

Better Tweetdeck will not work on the iOS version of Chrome.

Tablets

The larger screen size of a tablet means that accessing Tweetdeck via the browser is a more realistic option. However, for those with three or more accounts you will really need to use an external monitor.

iPad

As for the iPhone, there is no iOS version of Tweetdeck. You can use the Twitter application with each account set up separately and switch between them. You can also access Tweetdeck on the web.

Better Tweetdeck will not work on the iOS version of Chrome.

Windows 8.1 Tablet

As this is essentially the desktop operating system on a smaller device, Tweetdeck is usable but the screen size makes things more challenging.

Further Reading

Brilliant Social Media by Adam Gray – this link takes you to Amazon but I read it via my local library and then bought it.

Tweetdeck Pro Tips

© Hungerford Lodge 4748