Law and Software

twitter ignores my tweets with links… no longer

[May, 2013] By Andy Bartlett. Filed under: live blogging

Today, twitter decided I really wasn’t a spammer.



This was my first grown up tweet.  The first time Twitter allowed me to post a link to this site.

I signed up for twitter back in 2009. But only used it actively a few times, and made no effort to get any followers. I used it for news. I watched the events unfold in Egypt and Libya through twitter. I learned to catch a rumor, and look for confirmation, and sense the difference between people’s hopes of what they wanted to happen and what was really going on. And the recent Venezuela election had zero coverage in the news, but through twitter it was like being there. @hcapriles I learned a little of who you are.

Then along came the Senate hearings on the new immigration bill. The 800+ page PDF had been published at 2am Wednesday morning, and the hearings started on the Friday. I put up an HTML version – easy to read and browse – on this site, late on the Thursday evening. And even blogged about it.  In time (I thought). Unfortunately, Google’s  bots and all the other spiders weren’t interested (at least, then they weren’t). – The work was done. But it seemed a waste of time. No-one knew about it. And no-one finds new things by chance any more. You only find what others have already discovered.

I was following the hearings web streamed and on twitter, and it was obvious that few had read much of the bill at all. So I started tweeting. All through the day I tweeted comments and links to the sections they were talking about – so people could follow along. But no-one came.

I had been so busy keeping the world informed that I never checked to see if the world could hear me. When I finally looked at the twitter stream for the hashtags, only a couple of my posts – that didn’t have any links in them – had made it through. The others were all sitting on my profile page, but were not public.

Searches like “twitter is ignoring my tweets when I post links” uncovered what was going on. Twitter does silently ignore tweets with links for some users. Silently, is the issue. For twitter, there is very little difference between a recent user with few followers who tweets a link, and a spammer. Or rather, Twitter can’t tell the difference. And they don’t have a way for users to tell them “I am tweeting very important stuff here, please let me through”

As so often these days, we are ruled by algorithms. The software has some threshold. It has some way of saying “this user is not a bot or a bulk spammer.” People talk about it a lot on the web – but there’s nothing that says – do X, Y and Z and you are in. All I can add to the discussion is that with 15 followers and with 25 followers I couldn’t post the links I wanted. I could post links to the New York Times or other major sites. And I couldn’t post links to my site even after others had been tweeting and retweeting them. Everyone else could, but not me. Twitter did not trust me.

I did get some traffic during the hearings from twitter. I posted commentary. I followed people who were interested in the discussion. And made sure that the link to my version of the bill was on my twitter profile – so anyone who asked  “who made that tweet?” or “who is following me?” would stumble across it. I also noticed that someone in a similar position sneaked a link into one of their posts by dropping the initial “h” of http – so you can beat the censor by posting ttp:// –  I did that occasionally. It was effective. A couple of heavy twitter users noticed and retweeted a corrected version of the link. Thank you guys.

After over 100 tweets, and now with just over 40 followers, I tried again.  I just completed the merge of all the amendments into the text of the bill. Before Memorial Day weekend. And before the official merge comes out of the committee. And today they let me through. My link appears in the stream. It was perfect timing.

The bottom line is that if you plan to use twitter – then plan to use twitter. Don’t wait. A month or so before you will NEED to get your message across, start tweeting, start following people with similar interests. Slowly they notice they are being followed (??) and some follow back. Post some test links to #globky meaningless hashtags and see when you are let through. And if you can’t tweet links, keep tweeting without links. And the occasional ttp.


One Response to “twitter ignores my tweets with links… no longer”

  1. how to get verified on twitter Says:

    great insight. Really enjoyed reading this blog.

    Keep up the good work and to everyone keep on tweeting!

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