I wrote in my Old Usernames article about the importance of Twitter’s User ID in keeping tabs on slippery people’s behaviour. The User ID is a unique account identifier which remains the same however many times the user changes his or her @username. If you know the User ID, you will always be able to find a given Twitter profile (or at least find what’s happened to it) via its numerical URL. The Old Usernames article has more info on the basics.
But what happens if you discover that, say, a group of account @usernames have been switched, and you need to actually prove that the switch has taken place? This can happen with account networks when they try to cloak their origins. And it became important recently when the lead profile in a network of raving political activist accounts rebranded as the main promo feed for an alternative social media platform claiming to be politically impartial. I know, you couldn’t make it up, could you?
I’m not going to publicise the account in question, but it turned out to have gone through at least six @usernames, and it was originally a promo feed for a pitifully unprofessional “travel site”. I wanted, however, to be 100% sure that my old username tracking investigation was entirely accurate. Before I presented the info to anyone else, I needed to be right. And to be absolutely certain, I needed to retrospectively access the User IDs of accounts in the network – as they applied in the past. That would confirm beyond doubt that the usernames had been switched. But how would I get that confirmation?… Continue reading Twitter Detective MasterHack: How To Retrospectively Find A User ID Number