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Use TextExpander and Twitterrific to avoid Twitter spam

TJ Luoma, @tjluoma
March 21, 2011
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If you post to Twitter and say the word "iPhone" or "iPad," you are likely to get hit with one of the rash of Twitter spammers who search through Twitter for people who post about those terms and @reply to them with some "deal" (usually offering you a chance to "win" a "free" iPad or iPhone).

I have been trying to remember to not say those words on Twitter, or to spell them differently, such as "iPxd" or "iPhxne," or use "lookalike" characters such as "¡Phone" (that's an inverted "!" instead of an "i"). I keep forgetting, though, and every time I do -- wham! I get more spam.

So I finally decided to let my computer do the thinking for me. I created a new "Group" in TextExpander, and I told it to only expand in Twitterrific (my desktop Twitter app of choice). Then I created two shortcuts: "ipad" and "iphone" and told TextExpander to ignore the case (so if I type "iPhone" or "iphone" it will match both).

Then I created my alternate spellings for each word.

Now I don't have to remember to purposefully misspell them for Twitter (and ruin my muscle memory for typing them properly in other instances), and I can avoid some of the Twitter spammers. I trust my followers are smart enough to know what I mean when I talk about my new iPāÐ!

Note: experienced TextExpander users may note that the color of the shortcuts above indicates a "conflict" for those two shortcuts. That's because I have "ipad" and "iphone" shortcuts in my "stable" group, which auto-capitalizes them correctly even if I don't type the capital "P" myself. However, when TextExpander finds a "conflict" between two identical shortcuts, it uses the first one that it finds, so my Twitterrific group (since it is listed at the top) will override my other shortcuts.

P.S. Happy 5th birthday, Twitter! I hope you fix your spam problem -- and the trending topic bar in your app, and stop treating third-party developers like unwelcome guests despite the fact that they are responsible for much of your success -- soon!












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