Another dot in the blogosphere?

Blocking on Twitter

Posted on: August 18, 2016

I have been around the Twitter block since January 2007. I have learnt that sometimes I have to block and report other Twitter users.

The first category is scammers and spammers. Both might be bots or semi-bots that send scams and spam to #hashtagged chats, or to @handles publicly or via private DM. Blocking this group is essential for a clean and focused Twitter experience.

The spammers and scammers are easy to spot. They tend to have:

  • nearly identical messages sent out to different people
  • identical or nearly identical messages sent from different accounts
  • different profiles but the same personal website URL
  • dubious-sounding claims, promises, or links

The second category is trolls. This is an ugly, venomous lot. They tend to be attracted to celebrities and the entertainment industry, but a few wander into the edu-Twitterverse. Trolls need to not only be blocked but also reported to Twitter so that they can be blacklisted or removed.

The trolls are tend to be negative, but not critically so. The problem with this definition is that what is negative depends on how tolerant a person is. A tweeter can be negative but constructive, and that does not make him or her a troll. Trolls tend to attack people instead of ideas. It is best to observe that person over a period of time to gauge overall behaviour and monitor the responses that others may have.

The third category is people who do not know how to use the right handles. This might be something reserved for people with unique handles like me (@ashley). I get lots of misdirected tweets and retweets every day. Make that every hour. No, make that every minute.

Sometimes this is an honest mistake. Other times these tweets are from Twitter newbies or lazy tweeters.

If the tweeter seems to have made an honest mistake or is a newbie, I take less drastic action by muting instead of blocking.

I block recalcitrants. If I do not block or mute these folk, I suffer a slew misdirected messages from them that were intended for someone else. The messages can be abusive, personal, x-rated, or otherwise undesirable.

In the last year or so, I have noticed a surge of poorly curated “myfollowers” lists. This is when people I do not know or follow add me to their “myfollowers” list. These folk could be spammers, scammers, or newbies.

If they are not educators, I tend to block them. If they are and have added me by mistake, I remove myself from their lists (original guide).

  1. Visit your profile on Twitter
  2. Click on lists and then on “Member of”
  3. Visit the profile of the person who created the list
  4. Block that person for a few seconds
  5. Unblock them

Why not simply grin and bear with the spam, scam, trolls, misdirected tweets, or improperly curated lists? I know that ignoring the problems will not make them go away. Not doing anything is defeatist and irresponsible. I choose to be empowered, not helpless.

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