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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter connections’

Be Safe On Twitter – Remove Unwanted Apps To Stop Automated Tweets, Password Abuse And Hacking

Through its API, Twitter allows developers to write scripts and clients that provide a wealth of extra features and functionality to enrich the micro-blogging experience.

Most of these applications are completely legitimate and include things like Twitter for iPhone, Flipboard, bit.ly, Twittercounter and Posterous.

Sometimes we accidentally authorise unwelcom scripts to access our Twitter profiles, which can lead to unwelcome automated tweets and direct messages, and even password exploits and the spread of malware.

If your Twitter profile is behaving strangely, there’s a good chance that you’ve provided access to one or more of these unsavoury guests. Fortunately, it’s easy to be rid of them once and for all. You just have to be a little responsible.

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Check Your Connections Tab On Twitter (Because You've Only Got Yourself To Blame If It’s Full Of Crap)

I had a strange dream last night.

I was on Twitter when news broke on TMZ.com that Oprah Winfrey had died. I read the article, shared the link, and then went out.

This was all in the dream, remember. As it continued, I came back home after a couple of hours had passed and it turned out that TMZ had pulled the story, that it was a mistake, and Oprah was very much alive. However, my “Oprah Winfrey has died!” tweet was still sitting there in all its glory, and had started to generate thousands of really negative reactions. People were calling me a liar, saying I’d obviously put this out just to get attention, and so on.

As it continued, one guy – who was clearly a huge fan of Oprah (Stedman, perhaps) – got so pissed that he hacked into my Twitter account and hooked me up with all the worst auto-tweeting applications on the planet. Suddenly, ‘I’ was sending out all manner of garbage and some really offensive spew – tweets linking to porn, racist gibberish, etc. It wasn’t looking good.

Still dreaming, and as the complaints went from thousands to millions, I became increasingly frustrated at my inability to deal with the problem. The thing was, I knew what I had to do – it was as easy as visiting the connections tab on my Twitter account and revoking access to all the auto-tweeting crap that had been injected into my account.

But, much like those nightmares where you’re trying to run away from the monster but your legs are stuck or simply refuse to work, in the dream I somehow just couldn’t quite get there, and could only watch in horror as my good Twitter name was torn to shreds.

Suffice to say, I woke in something of a fluster.

Silly as it was, the dream had some purpose. This morning, I checked my connections tab for the first time in a while, and sure enough there were a couple of things in there that I didn’t recognise and immediately revoked. Thankfully, they hadn’t started sending out any auto-nonsense to my timeline, but that doesn’t mean that they never would have.

You see, the problem with giving permission on Twitter is it’s forever – unless you do something about it. There are no layers of permission, certainly from Twitter’s end. You’re either in, or you’re out. Sure, some of these apps let you configure your preferences at their end, but it’s easy to overlook this and it’s really easy to grant permission one day and totally forget all about it the next.

(Especially late at night after one or two raspberry daiquiris – but I digress.)

I’ve written about this before, but I needed reminding myself. It pays to check your connections on a regular basis – once a week is a good habit to get into. Certainly, if you find yourself auto-tweeting – which is never a good thing – check your connections first. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred the problem, and solution, will be in there.

As for Oprah – and just in case this article gets misinterpreted and becomes self-fulfilling and wholly ironic – she is, I would like to remind you, still with us.

(Although she hasn’t updated in a while.)

Taking Responsibility

I get enquiries for help and assistance on various Twitter-related bugs and issues on a daily basis, and where I can I’m happy to provide guidance.

Lately the most common request has been from users looking to stop something from populating their Twitter timeline with automated tweets. After the Mikeyy exploit, I wrote about steps you can take to ensure your Twitter account remains secure, but these kinds of attacks on Twitter are rare. The reality is that most of the auto-tweeting bots on Twitter are not operating in a malicious way. Sure, they’re undesirable and not something any of us really want to see, but they haven’t figured out your password and they haven’t hacked your account. They’ve been authorised, and the person who gave them permission was you.

You may not want to believe it, you may swear blind that you’ve never, ever signed up for anything, but whether you want to accept it or not nine times out of ten these things happen because you’ve put your Twitter John Hancock on somebody else’s dotted line. And most of the time it’s some kind of internet marketer scam.

Fortunately, Twitter allocates us a fairly easy way to monitor and disable these nuisances.

  1. Log on to Twitter
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Click on Connections

This area lists all the external applications and tools to which you’ve granted access to your account. For me, this includes stuff like CoTweet, Seesmic, MrTweet, TweetMeme and WeFollow.

Twitter Connections

If there’s anything in there you don’t immediately recognise and/or trust, click on the ‘Revoke Access’ link, and you’re away.

I recommend having an inspection of your Twitter connections on a regular basis – at least once per week. Most of the time the auto-tweeters can be found in here. Sometimes, they won’t, and on those occasions please give me a shout and we’ll try to figure it out. Otherwise, if we take a little responsibility, we can all play our part in keeping Twitter auto-tweet free.