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May 13, 2011

The Perils of the "Automatic Follow"

You're innocently reading the tweets from those you follow on Twitter. Oh look, Christina Aguilera just said something really interesting! And she mentioned somebody else too.

You look at this person's timeline, see that she also posts interesting stuff, and you decide to follow her too. You click that follow button.

And a few minutes later, you get a notice that she's following you back! Wow, she must have seen that I was following her, come to my timeline and read what I had to say, and decided I was interesting enough to follow as well! Even though she's busy 23 hours a day doing shows and attempting to entertain the masses. I'm so special!!!

Actually, you're not, though it's a nice thought.

Instead, she has something set up that automatically follows whoever is following her. And often sends a "direct message" (a private tweet seen only by the person it was sent to) to each follower.

It's a weird mindset, though there are articles defending the practice.

Many times I get somebody following me who obviously hasn't read my tweets, other than maybe the one that brought me to their attention. They do a Twitter search and find keywords in my profile, such as "conservative" or "xbox" or whatever. They follow me. I read their timeline, decide that while they're probably ok people, their tweets are not something that I want to habitually read.

So I don't follow them. Soon, thanks to a service I signed up for that alerts me when somebody unfollows me, I get a message saying that they dropped me. All because I didn't follow them back.

Thus, many people think that, if they want to keep people following them, they have to follow back anybody who follows them in the first place. Hence, the auto-follow feature.

But today I happened upon a problem with this that I hadn't thought of.

I received a notice that Ms Sancha LPG was following me.


Ummmmm, ok. I don't know how she found me, but I'm sure she'll drop me soon because I'm not following her back.

However, in the email I received telling me that she was following me, it also told me that "you follow a user who follows" this person.

And who shows up in that section? A semi-prominent (at least on Twitter) conservative pundit.

Now, maybe he has a secret obsession with sexy bisexual Latina rappers. I don't know.

But I doubt it.

Most likely, he has an auto-follow set up that follows anybody who follows him. And for some reason she decided to follow him. Probably for the same reason she followed me.

People can go through the people you follow, unless you hide your tweets. I would think you'd want to know who you follow, to make sure you don't have any "undesirables" in there.

Who you follow says something about you and your tastes. Or at least it should.

And for those of my readers not really interested in Twitter but who read this anyway (or who just look at the pictures), here's your prize.

Also, when I post about Twitter, Evette usually starts using it again, another reason to post this. :) (let's see if she's reading this...)

Finally, it's appropriate that I'm posting this today, because I'm currently (Ok, in a couple of hours) at the Northern Voices social media and blogging conference.

I'm sure I will have lots of fun (ah, the wonders of blog post pre-scheduling! Since I wrote this yesterday). Follow my Twitter feed for updates, as I do plan on tweeting from there.

*Edit* Surprise, surprise. Sancha's Twitter account has been suspended.


  1. No one's buying it - maybe only your mother - but you're the one who has the obsession with sexy bilateral Latina rappers.

    NTTAWWI, right?


    Nice try. :p

  2. Hey, I got a twofer in my email Inbox today from your blog feed. That's never happened before, but it was cool - your last two articles were in the same email.

    As for all this auto-follow stuff, I knew there had to be some sort of app or dealie for that; I just never looked into it because I'm not huge on Twitter. But you knew that.

    I also didn't know you could sign up to find out who drops you from their Twitter. I swear, eventually, there will be an app to let you know when a grasshopper sneezes on the opposite side of the planet. I might sign up for that, 'cause you know how I feel about grasshoppers.

    ~ Dawnie

  3. Dawnie!

    Must have been a because of the Blogger outage that they both were sent out the same day. I posted the other on on Thursday. Weird.

    Yeah, the finding out who dropped you on Twitter is *really* interesting. Most of the time it's not a big deal, but it can be useful.

    It was definitely useful for my work account last week. It told me that I hadn't been posting enough of a certain type of post; something I moved to rectify.

    I knew you loved grasshoppers, but their sneezes? That takes a special kind of devotion.

  4. *L* Honestly, I'm not all that warm and cozy w/ grasshoppers in real life - just with the grasshopper brain activity. I was always getting bitten by the nasty critters when we were kids working in the tobacco fields. I think they're like mosquitoes in that they're attracting to certain blood types. This is just a theory, but I sure did get gnawed on a lot in those early years. As far as grasshopper sneezes go, you have to admit, that would be a novel thing to witness. ;-)


  5. When the wife and I were driving out here to move me from Illinois to Washington, we stopped at the Little Big Horn Battlefield historical site.

    We were walking that paths to experience all that history (ok, I was...the wife was following, but she doesn't love history like I do), and we were *swarmed* with grasshoppers. They virtually covered the sidewalk/road, and I was trying desperately not to step on any of them.

    Partially for humanitarian reasons and partially because I didn't want to bring even more of them down on us.

    We got back to the car and explored the rest of it by car.


    I really don't like grasshoppers after that experience.


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