I enjoy using Twitter. Maybe it’s for learning something new, or catching up with the latest trends. I wish I could spend more time reading what I want to enjoy versus scrolling through the slog of bots and spam accounts. Instead of putting up with it, I took a proactive approach and remove those nuisances from my account. Five hours and 253 unfollows later, I’m happy to say I think I did it. Just how did I do it? Glad you asked.
The first step on this journey was to find out which accounts I wanted to target. I didn’t want to remove real people from my account. Those are the folks I enjoy interacting with. I wanted to remove the accounts that promised to increase my Twitter reach, filled my account with click bait, kept offering products of which I had no interest in seeing; and my personal favorite, the follow my sexy porn site accounts. (Are porn actors that attracted to Linux users?)
I signed up for a web service called ManageFlitter, which allowed me to track various Twitter metrics, the most important being who followed me but I didn’t follow back. Before you say anything, I’m a little slow following people because I want to connect with real people as opposed to bot accounts. You can scold me. Just do it lightly. Another good metric was the “Inactive Accounts” tab, which I will get to later.
ManageFlitter told me I had many people I had yet to follow back. Now I know I’m not THAT much of a slacker, so I went through the accounts sure enough, there were bots o’plenty. (There were a few real people in the mass of bots, who I promptly followed. My apologies to you should you be reading this post.) Now that I identified the problem, what next? Was I going to go through each account and force unfollow them? Luckily no.
A trip down Google lane brought me to a Chrome web extension called Twitter Follow Blocker. The extension takes a little while to get use to, but, speaking plainly, it lists everyone who follows you so you can block them from your account. As Twitter doesn’t have a way to remove followers from your account, this method, despite sounding harsh, works. I’ll go into more detail about the block/unblock trick in another post.
After going through my followers and scrolling through all 700+ accounts, I fired up the extension and carefully went through each account. I printed out the report from ManageFlitter, so I knew which accounts to flag. During my journey, I came across other accounts that had either been hacked and the hacker was having fun with the user’s account, to accounts I didn’t even remember following. One after another, I clicked through the list. If I wasn’t sure about an account, I clicked on the @username, which opened their Twitter page allowing me to get a detailed look. After a few hours, I reached the end of the list. I was satisfied that the accounts I targeted were the ones I wanted gone. I pressed the block button on the app and it went to work, emulating the tedious mouse clicks of blocking each individual account. At this point I watched as the extension did its thing. I took notes for this post while it worked. After several minutes, it reached the end of the list. 253 accounts were now blocked, which forcefully unfollowed them from my account.
I went to my Twitter homepage and refreshed the content. Sure enough both my following and follower numbers dropped. Not only was I able to remove the bot accounts from my follower list, I removed myself from some of those suspect accounts.700+ followers dropped to a little under 450 and I noticed a decline in the accounts I followed. I didn’t realize just how pervasive spam account issue was until I took the time to go through my account and remove them.
But, Trinae, you just lost almost 300 followers! No I didn’t. They weren’t real. There was no sense of engagement or any other connection. I gained access to real people talking about real things of interest. Gone were the literal thousands of garbage retweets. I could read what people were saying. I could comment on it, like it. I could connect to many more people after reducing the noise from the bot accounts. I wasn’t after quantity, I was after quality. Isn’t that what networking is supposed to be about?
I could have avoided all of this my making my account private. That way I could choose who I let in. I guess I figured since I wasn’t talking about anything private, I saw no reason in marking the account as such. It’s a lesson learned. The horse is back in the barn eating hay and I locked the door behind him.
So what about those inactive accounts I mentioned earlier? ManageFlitter has a report that allows you to see inactive accounts that have posted nothing for anywhere from 1-6 months. I also unfollowed them from my account. Hey, if the accounts haven’t been used in over six months, I doubt the user is coming back. If they do and they want to reconnect, I’m just a direct message away.
Photo by mkhmarketing