The Twit Cleaner

Mentioning no names, but a lot of the people I was following on Twitter are no longer Twits. Not surprising, really, given that I’ve been using the microblogging tool since June 2007 (yeah, I know, a latecomer to the party). So, given that some of the people I was following are no longer Twits, I thought I’d clean up my account and remove them.

There are lots of tools out there to help you choose who to stop following. Friend or Follow, I’ve mentioned before. It works out who you are following that is not following you back so you can choose whether or not you wish to continue with such a non-mutual friendship. Then, there’s TwitBlock which assesses the activity of the people following you (rather than who you follow) and lets you flag their account as spam if their activity looks spammy. I run both of these tools periodically.

Then, I spotted The Twit Cleaner reviewed on Twitip. You use OAuth to allow the tool to access your Twitter account, it automatically follows for you, you then tell it to scan the people you follow, your followees, and sends you a DM when it’s assessed them all. It took about 20 minutes to scan the 2065 people I was following on Twitter yesterday and generates a nice big, clickable chart of all those it considers to be less than worthy of your attention.


It categorizes your followees as “dodgy” if they never @ anyone, never RT and send out more than a high percentage of links and nothing else. There were lots of those on my list and I selected a few dozen simply by clicking their icon on the chart. The Twit Cleaner then uses the Twitter API to (deliberately slowly) unfollow those people on your behalf.

The next category includes suspected bots, there were quite a few of those too. Accounts that spurt the output from an RSS feed and do nothing else. All removed.

A handful of followees were categorized as repeating the same URLs again and again, repeatedly. All gone now. Similarly, a half dozen were posting identical tweets and nothing else. Unfollowed.

There was a dozen or so followees flagged as “app spammers” people tweeting their FourSquare coordinates, or generating nonsense or telling the world every time they choose a new music track on Some of this group were actual friends and contacts, so it was a delicate choice to make. All gone. Similarly, a couple of followees using ad networks to tweet. Who needs them? Now off-list.

People who haven’t tweeted in more than a month? That’s far too long for a vacation, you were obviously destined never to be a stayer. All removed.

The final two categories generated by TTC contain those followees who talk, talk, talk, never share links, never RT, but just chat inanely, incessantly, and infuriatingly. I did think about keeping one or two of them. But, naaarh. All gone. Same for those playing at echo chamber and not tweeting anything original.

By the time, I was finished the first trawl, I’d cut my followee count to 1798. I am not rescanning and making a decision on any to which I gave the benefit of the doubt first time around. I suspect, I’ll get my followee count down to 1500 by the end of the day. Still, that’s probably far too many people to try and keep up with, thank Twitter for lists. Interestingly, I had expected my Twitter count to fall as I removed the bots and spammers that I’d been inadvertently following and as those people who insist on mutuality of following removed me in turn. However, my personal Twitter count leaped overnight by 19 followers, the biggest jump of the month.

So, it’s all good. I’ve ousted the bots and bores from my followee list and somehow boosted my account overall. Give it a try…just please, don’t flag @sciencebase, eh?

This article has been reproduced from Sciencetext technology website. Copyright David Bradley.

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About David Bradley Science Writer

David Bradley has worked in science communication for more than twenty years. After reading chemistry at university, he worked and travelled in the USA, did a stint in a QA/QC lab and then took on a role as a technical editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry. Then, following an extended trip to Australia, he returned and began contributing as a freelance to the likes of New Scientist and various trade magazines. He has been growing his portfolio and and has constructed the Sciencebase Science News and the Sciencetext technology website. He also runs the SciScoop Science Forum which is open to guest contributors on scientific topics.
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