Posts tagged & Twitter

Buffer’s Complete Guide to Mobile Social Media: Strategies for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ by @kevanlee

I spend my days writing content from my desktop computer for people who will read the content on their smartphones and tablets. Go figure. Mobile devices are fast becoming the preferred method of reading, sharing, and engaging with online content. It’s strange to think that the content we create on desktops and laptops will end up on dozens of different screen sizes before all is said and done. It’s a good lesson to keep in mind. When I share to social media, what will my sharing look like to the people who see it? Increasingly, they’ll be seeing my tweets and updates on a screen in the palm […]

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Twitter Opens Up Its Analytics Dashboard To All Users by @mattsouthern

It has been a good news day if you love social media analytics. First, Pinterest introduces a new analytics platform, and now Twitter opens up its analytics dashboard to everyone. Last month Twitter launched an analytics dashboard that was akin to having Google Analytics for Twitter. It did everything you would want in a Twitter analytics tool, such as measure the performance of all your tweets, track how many people viewed your tweets and clicked on your links and so on. Except there was one problem, only advertisers and verified users had access to it. That has all changed now, […]

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Twitter Unveils A New Time-Waster: Tracking Your Popularity

You can now go back through your entire Twitter history to see how many people actually see your tweets, thanks to Twitter’s now publicly available Twitter analytics dashboard. (Check it out here.)


Originally reserved for advertisers and verified users, Twitter is making the dashboard available to everyone who uses the service.

The dashboard lets you see how many people saw your tweet; how many interacted with it by favoriting, replying, clicking on a link or retweeting; and the “engagement rate,” or the percentage of people who saw the tweet and actually interacted with it.

One downside, however, is that you can’t sort tweets by impressions or engagements—you’ll have to manually scroll through your entire history. (Another is that you can spend a lot of time obsessing over this stuff, at least if you’re a regular Twitter user.)

It’s a handy dashboard for figuring out which tweets are the most popular. By browsing through your past history, you may get a sense of how well future tweets may do. 

Lead illustration by Nigel Sussman for ReadWrite

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Twitter To Team Up With Stripe To Insert A ‘Buy Now’ Button Into Tweets by @mattsouthern

In January, Re/code reported that Twitter and Stripe were in talks to work together on something but nothing had been finalized at that time. Sources have told Re/code that the deal has since been finalized and the two parties are working together on a way to make purchases directly from tweets. Twitter is expected to introduce buttons later this year that will be embedded in tweets and invite users to “Buy”, or include some variation of that word. When a Twitter user clicks on the button they are said to be able to complete the purchase, including entering payment and […]

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What The Tweet? Your Illustrated Guide To New Twitter Jargon

Twitter has a problem: New users just don’t know how to use it

To help newbies sign up and start tweeting, the company has made a number of recent changes. Redesigned profiles, a giant World Cup marketing push, and rejiggering the Home timeline are just part of Twitter’s many attempts to make it friendlier for first-time users.

The problem: It’s not just Twitter’s design or interface that makes it an intimidating service for the average Internet user. It’s, well, Twitter users themselves. Habitual Twitter users like me have a habit of tossing out terms and references that are utterly opaque to newcomers:

“Get me out of this Twitter canoe!”

“This picture needs some @darth.”

“OH in SOMA: ‘when I see someone with grey hair in their profile pic, I’m a little nervous to send them an email.’”

To help new users navigate Twitter’s insider vocabulary and obscure etiquette, here’s a handy guide. We’ll help you paddle through a Twitter canoes, deal with RLRTs, and become an all-star Twitter user.

Start With The Basics

RT (Retweet)

The retweet—RT for short—is a user-created Twitter abbreviation that has become one of the social network’s key features. Retweeting is taking someone else’s tweet and tweeting it into your timeline, with the intent of spreading their words to your followers.

There are a few ways to retweet. Five years ago, Twitter started automating it with the retweet button, and that’s the way most people who use Twitter know the feature. On Twitter’s mobile app, you also have the option of simply quoting the tweet, which is a much more familiar plain-English way of saying “these are someone else’s words.

A newer way is to paste a link to the original tweet, which Twitter will then show embedded in smaller form underneath anything you write about it in your own tweet. It’s not exactly retweeting, but it serves a similar purpose.

But before any of those options were available, people manually typed “RT” and the original tweeter’s username in front of a tweet they thought was clever or interesting to share with their followers. 

Some people still do this, for a variety of reasons:

•  They’re old-school Twitter users who never dropped the habit.
• They’re friends with old-school Twitter users who picked up the “RT” convention from them.
• They genuinely think typing a manual “RT” makes it clearer who the author was.
• They want to add some commentary to a tweet.

Manual retweeting does allow room to add your own words, but there’s some contention over whether or not the manual RT should even be used anymore, as some people see it as taking credit away from the original tweet. Tweet embeds also serve the same purpose as manual retweets for adding commentary, which raises further questions about whether new users should adopt this old convention.

Take a look at this tweet, for example. At a glance, can you tell who wrote it? Is it CNET’s Nick Statt? Bloomberg’s Tim O’Brien? Security researcher Runa Sandvik? Or The Intercept’s Ryan Deveraux? 

In fact, Statt did a manual retweet of O’Brien’s tweet, which was a retweet-by-quote of Sandvik’s tweet, which included a screenshot of an article by Deveraux.

Try explaining that to a brand-new Twitter user.

Fav (Favorite)

When you star someone’s tweet, it’s considered a fav, or favorite. (Some people prefer the spelling “fave,” but “fav” seems more popular among Twitter users.) There are no rules regarding what people favorite. It could mean the tweet made them laugh. It could be a “thank you” for mentioning a specific topic or idea. Or it could simply mean that they want to save it to read later, almost like a Web bookmark.

See Also: Time Out: Twitter Is Officially Mucking With Your Timeline

Historically, favorited tweets, while publicly available if you visit a Twitter user’s profile page, have never appeared in people’s timelines like retweets. But in an effort to make the service more appealing for new users, Twitter will now display some tweets from strangers that have been favorited by people you follow.

The bottom line: Any tweets you favorite are public, and are more likely to be seen by a wide variety of people now. People may expect you to explain why you hit the star icon on a particularly controversial tweet.

#FF (Follow Friday) And Other Hashtags

In 2009, Micah Baldwin suggested that people start tweeting the usernames of accounts they thought their friends should follow. He dubbed it “Follow Friday.”

People rapidly added a way to find these tweets, by marking them with a hashtag. A hashtag is any word or phrase with a hash mark—”#”—at the beginning. You’ll see people use hashtags with news events like #Ferguson or #Syria, but Twitter insiders also use them for their own particular conventions. For Follow Friday, it started as #followfriday and then got shortened to #FF

If you’re included in a #FF tweet, be flattered that someone thinks you’re so interesting, they want their followers to follow you, too. You might want to reciprocate by doing your own #FF mentioning them.

It’s not normal to do a #FF on any day but Friday. If you see someone doing that, either they’ve lost track of the date, or they’re being sarcastic.

MT (Modified Tweet)

A tweet with an “MT” at the start is a “modified tweet.” That’s like a retweet, but the author wants to let you know it’s not a faithful reproduction of the original tweet. People use it instead of a RT for a few reasons. One is that they want to shorten the original tweet, so they can fit their own commentary inside Twitter’s 140-character limit.

People use MT rather liberally. If you see it in a tweet, it could mean the user modified the words after the tweet in an attempt to be funny or sarcastic, or they just shortened the tweet by removing a word or a link so they could add their own opinion ahead of it.

Tweeting IRL (In Real Life)

RLRT (Real-Life Retweet)

If someone said something so amazing in real life that you have to share it on Twitter, use RLRT, which stands for real life retweet. When paired with your friend’s Twitter handle, it tells your followers that the person mentioned in the tweet actually said it, and you were there to hear it.

OH (Overheard)

OH means “overheard.” An OH is kind of like an RLRT, with an important difference: You’re not supposed to name the person who said the thing you’re tweeting. Naming someone in an OH is a major breach of Twitter etiquette.

Where Things Get Weird

Twitter Canoe

If you’ve been @-mentioned in a conversation on Twitter that mentions a lot of other users and that doesn’t stop until the people involved run out of things to say, congratulations! You’ve been roped into a Twitter canoe.

A canoe is a conversation on Twitter that keeps rolling and adding new people until people get annoyed or bored and stop talking to each other. Adding yourself to a Twitter canoe is a bit of a bold move—etiquette calls for someone to add you first.


Remember that time you were in high school and someone was talking about you right in front of your face, but they never said your name, and yet everyone knew they were talking about you?

A subtweet, or subliminal tweet, is like that, but on Twitter. You might call it passive-aggressive tweeting. Someone tweets something about a person or topic—usually something negative—without actually mentioning that person’s Twitter handle or linking to the topic they’re discussing. That makes it difficult for the person to find—and enraging if they do eventually discover your tweet.

@SubtweetCat is the queen of subtweeting. She literally wrote the book on social media. 

Tweetstorm (Twitterstorm)

When people have a lot of Very Important Things to say that cannot be confined to the constraints of 140 characters, they could write a blog post, right? But no: It’s recently become fashionable to deliver long-winded diatribes on Twitter by tweeting multiple times, adding a number and a slash mark—”1/”, “2/”, “3/”, etc.—to each tweet so their followers don’t miss a single thing they say.

This is called a tweetstorm, or Twitterstorm, for the thunderous way these multiple tweets rain down on people’s timelines.

Some people really don’t like tweetstorms, so expect some backlash if you decide to engage in one. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to tweetstorm. After you begin your tweetstorm with a “1/”, make sure you start your next tweet by replying to that first tweet. Make every subsequent tweet a reply to the previous one. That will make sure that anyone who encounters your tweetstorm can find the entire series easily.

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen is largely blamed for popularizing the tweetstorm. Note: Andreessen has a perfectly good blog.


@darth is a mysterious Twitter user who entertains people with his epic Photoshops, retweets of adorable animals, and the creation of visual memes—catchy combinations of images and text that are easy to modify and pass around. Some of his best work appears in response to ideas that are trending on Twitter as hashtags, like #conspiracybooks.

No one has yet unearthed Darth’s true identity, so we only know him as Twitter’s resident Darth-Vader-helmet-wearing red panda. If your dog is cute enough, he might just Photoshop him.

A tip to the wise: If you see an image you love in Darth’s feed, make sure to save it to your phone or PC. For some reason, Darth chooses to delete older tweets, so if you miss a great Darth Photoshop, it could be gone forever. 

Images by Nigel Sussman for ReadWrite

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Twitter Tightens Photo Policies Following High-Profile Deaths

Twitter is tightening its policies on harassment and graphic imagery following the deaths of Robin Williams and U.S. journalist James Foley, who was reportedly beheaded by jihadis in Syria. On Tuesday, the company stated it will now remove certain images of deceased individuals at the family’s request.

Twitter announced its clarified guidelines on images of deceased Twitter users soon after graphic images reportedly depicted Foley’s beheading by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria began circulating on the social media site. Twitter quickly deleted the images as they circulated and suspended many of accounts that were sharing them. Some of the accounts however, were reportedly reinstated.

Deleting images at the request of families is a conservative change for Twitter, which has proved a crucial tool for documenting and distributing news and information happening around the world. People regularly share graphic content and images, and the company suggests users mark media containing sensitive content to prevent it from automatically displaying in tweets. 

Under the new guidelines, Twitter won’t delete just any image, however, and it makes it very clear in the updated policy that images can be removed in certain circumstances like immediately before and after death, but if images are newsworthy, they may not be scrubbed from social network.

In order to respect the wishes of loved ones, Twitter will remove imagery of deceased individuals in certain circumstances. Immediate family members and other authorized individuals may request the removal of images or video of deceased individuals, from when critical injury occurs to the moments before or after death, by sending an e-mail to When reviewing such media removal requests, Twitter considers public interest factors such as the newsworthiness of the content and may not be able to honor every request.

The new policy also comes on the heels of Robin Williams’ death on Aug. 11. His daughter, Zelda Williams, received disturbing images and harassing comments following her father’s death that eventually led her to quit the social network.

In response, Twitter suspended the accounts that harassed her and Twitter promised to “evaluate its policies” around tragic events to prevent future behavior. 

Lead image by Anthony Quintano

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Twitter To Start Showing You Tweets From People You Don’t Follow by @mattsouthern

Prepare yourself to start seeing tweets in your timeline from people you don’t follow. A change to Twitter’s timeline is going to start pulling in tweets from people you don’t follow if Twitter consider’s that tweet to be “popular or relevant.” These new additions to Twitter’s timeline started as an experiment but will now be a permanent change to the service. Twitter’s FAQ page for the question “What is a Twitter timeline?” has been updated with the following section: Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it […]

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Time Out: Twitter Is Officially Mucking With Your Timeline

Your Twitter timeline is no longer reserved for people you follow. A recent addition to Twitter’s “What’s A Twitter Timeline?” page explains to users that people may start to see “popular” or “relevant” links appearing in their timeline, a space originally reserved for tweets and retweets from the people you’ve chosen to follow.

The change, first spotted by The Next Web, is expected—this month Twitter tested two new features that displayed tweets that weren’t explicitly shared in your timeline. Now it appears Twitter is officially rolling out this new timeline structure that includes suggested follows and favorites as retweets from accounts you don’t follow.

See also: Twitter’s Retweet Experiment Will Make You Rethink Your Favorites

Twitter explains how it will decide which tweets to show you in its revised Help Center page:

Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting

The move to share tweets from people you don’t follow and weren’t retweeted into your timeline is an effort to make the platform easier for new users to discover new people or brands to follow. 

While the timeline change may be a welcome gift to newbies, it’s an off-putting feature for hardcore Twitter users. Many people who are used to Twitter have already carefully pruned their follow lists to minimize the odds of seeing tweets from people and topics they aren’t interested in.

Lead image by marek.sotak

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Local Ferguson Reporters Use Twitter Like War Correspondents

Local reporters in Ferguson covering the ongoing unrest have turned to what’s become a mandatory tool for war correspondents covering conflict in real time, Twitter. 

For Danny Wicentowski, 24, a staff reporter at the Riverfront Times, a St. Louis weekly, Twitter serves as his pipeline to the newsroom, allowing him to provide realtime updates as well as photographs, and helping his entire team beat back burnout as the demonstrations and police interactions continue. 

On the street until 3 a.m. nearly every day since Sunday, his dispatches from Ferguson have been retweeted hundreds of times. His 300 followers have grown to more than 2,000. Like the other reporters on the ground, his Twitter feed is a window on Ferguson for the rest of the nation. 

Twitter also came in handy when Wicentowski wanted to know what left the big bruise on his leg. “I thought it was the cap of a flash bang, but (after I tweeted a photo) someone posted a link and said, ‘Oh, no, it was a foam disk, which is a different anti-riot device.’”

For all the solid news Wicentowski is turning out in 140-character snippets, you wouldn’t know this is his first journalism job … as well as his first time really using Twitter. 

I talked with Wicentowski about what it’s like covering the protests and riots in Ferguson, and how Twitter and other social platforms are crucial to helping him tell the story.

A Twitter Newbie

My experience with Twitter has been almost non-existent. Before this, I did very little twittering. I’ve had to learn how to do all of this as it happens. 

Learning To Write Short

A lot of the writing I do is narrative, long form writing, which doesn’t translate to Twitter. 

Twitter does give you the ability to do little vignettes. I can’t not do that—it’s the way I write, and I tweet that way as well. It has a poetic quality to just have these little moments, like noticing the moon is really big while there’s gunfire and tear gas happening.

I can sort of spit out impressions that go in my head that would normally go in my notebook that I would save later to establish a scene in some longer piece—now they’ve become tweets … [I can] build a narrative out of what I’m seeing.

Getting The Timeline Right

Twitter really helps establish a narrative timeline to help me figure out, “What was I thinking about this time? What was the reason I tweeted it?” If it was important, I can return to that. I’ve been doing that in my stories. I’ll loop back on something like quotes that I’ve picked up on, or expand on them in a later story.

The Importance Of Mobile Reporting

I should say humbly, (the Riverfront Times is) kicking ass. We are not waiting to aggregate or to only do analysis. We’ve all been out there at various times on the ground reporting firsthand. 

Though we are local, not all of us have deep ties to the area. But our local connections and our ability to connect with and local activists who we know already gives us a much better handle.

The residents know we’ll be there, and we’ll be there later. It helps the undercurrent of animosity to the national media who residents may suspect can be little more than riot tourists, or crafting things all about hype.

Lead image courtesy of Danny Wicentowski

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After Zelda Williams Abuse, Twitter May (Finally) Protect Users

In response to hateful tweets to Robin Williams’ daughter, Zelda following her father’s death, Twitter issued a statement claiming that it is “evaluating how we can further improve our policies to better handle tragic situations like this one.” 

This is cold comfort for those Twitter users who attempted to bring attention to Twitter’s impotent user protections during CEO Dick Costolo’s CNBC’s #AskCostolo interview. And it’s unclear how “evaluating policies” will aid Twitter users targeted with rape and death threats, and other forms of abuse on the site. 

Harassment is a known problem on Twitter, and the Internet overall, and it’s largely geared towards women. Some women suffer harassment every day, including rape and murder threats.

In Amanda Hess’ article “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet,” she describes a scenario in which an anonymous account was created specifically for sending her rape and death threats, and when she took it to the police, they did nothing.

According to a PewResearch study, 12% of Internet users have been stalked or harassed online, and 4% of have been led into physical danger because of something that happened online. 

But even after years of outcry from users, it took a famous person, and the world paying attention, to make Twitter admit it needs to change its policies.

Harassment Leads To Quitting Twitter

On Tuesday, amid the Internet’s ongoing commemoration of her father’s life, Zelda Williams, 25, announced on her Twitter and Instagram accounts that she was abandoning social media, maybe forever. 

As she posted on Instagram:

I will be leaving this account for a bit while I heal and decide if I’ll be deleting it or not. In this difficult time, please try to be respectful of the accounts of myself, my family and my friends. Mining our accounts for photos of dad, or judging me on the number of them is cruel and unnecessary.

Since her father’s death announced on Monday, the younger Williams shared her grief on the Internet, along with her father’s fans, posting a poignant farewell to her father on Tumblr. Unfortunately, between the tweets of condolences, Williams received cruel messages that eventually drove her off the social network.

In response to this very bad publicity, Twitter suspended the accounts which harassed her, and Del Harvey, Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety, said in a statement that the company is working to improve its policies.

We will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter. We have suspended a number of accounts related to this issue for violating our rules and we are in the process of evaluating how we can further improve our policies to better handle tragic situations like this one. This includes expanding our policies regarding self-harm and private information, and improving support for family members of deceased users.

The statement is notably vague on how Twitter will enforce any improved policies that might emerges from this evaluation. (Twitter refused to provide information to ReadWrite beyond the statement.) Further, the statement is targeted specifically to Zelda Williams’ situation and experience, so it’s also unclear whether any policy changes will apply to those countless users who receive other forms of harassment such as rape and death threats. 

Twitter’s Silence Equals Consent

Twitter is historically hesitant to address harassment experienced by its users, and current tools are largely ineffectual. 

Twitter’s current system recently came under fire during CNBC’s July 28 Twitter chat #AskCostolo. Over 30 percent of the questions aimed at Twitter’s CEO asked about the company’s faulty safety policies, including criticism of the complicated reporting process, and the length of time it takes for someone to be reported in the first place. Twitter didn’t officially address the criticisms from the #AskCostolo question and answer session, but Costolo himself replied to a handful of inquiries, and said the team was working to address those concerns the very next day. 

For many people, blocking and reporting abuse isn’t enough. Sometimes harassers create multiple accounts when theirs are blocked, and trying to get rid of them all is like playing an impossible game of whack-a-mole. 

In one case, when Feminist Frequency host Anita Sarkeesian reported a rape threat to Twitter, the company responded that the account was not in violation of Twitter’s rules. Our own editor-in-chief Owen Thomas recently ran into problems while trying to report a rape threat against a another person, but was told by the company it would not act because he was not the individual involved, or responsible for her safety.

In December of last year, Twitter riled critics by changing the “block” function to effectively mute someone in an effort to keep trolls from antagonizing blockers once they’ve learned they’ve been blocked. Twitter erupted in outrage, and in response, Twitter quickly backtracked and reinstated the block feature—adding a separate mute function months later to silence annoying tweeters without letting them know. Twitter, for its part, implemented a block function in 2007 when the service was still a year old.

To combat perpetual harassment, users created their own workarounds. 

Former Twitter engineer Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, now a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, recently launched “Block Together,“a tool that allows users to automate block functions, and share their block lists with other people on Twitter to help prevent harassment. Other user-created products like BlockBot and provide similar services.

See Also: The People Who Make Twitter Don’t Look Like The People Who Use Twitter

Luckily, resources like Block Together provide examples of what the company should be building internally. And while harassment on Twitter won’t magically disappear over night, finally taking it seriously and admitting new policies are needed to better handle Internet bullies, may result in a safer Twitter in the future.

It’s just a shame that it took a tragedy to finally push Twitter to change.

Lead image by xinem.

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