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→
The “privacy” model has become a default business strategy for new search engines. Why? Because it sells. Given the typically inferior quality of their results, and their often uninspiring user-experience, “private search engines” routinely over-achieve in terms of growth. So unless they have a revolutionary new concept, anyone entering today’s search market is almost compelled to trade on privacy.
Have you ever found it a bit irksome trying to work out what the deal is with a newly discovered Twitter user? Okay, so you can see their bio, and their most recent tweets, but this may not tell you much about the actual people with whom they’re associated.
One of the most interesting Twitter tricks I’ve found in some time is what I’m calling the Google Twitter Connectivity Snapshot. The idea works courtesy of Google’s Advanced Search, and can provide a quick insight into a Twitter user’s sphere of activity. True, you can read the user’s bio and look at the tweets or retweets on their profile page, but that often gives quite a self-conscious sense of who the person is. Sometimes, it’s more revealing to see what kind of people connect with them, and take a peep at some of the connections. Continue reading Google’s Twitter Connectivity Snapshot→
As social sites have increasingly deployed cute algorithms to feed us what they want us to see (as opposed to what we actually asked for), it’s become almost essential for the serious reader to adopt a more proactive approach than the simple policy of ‘follow and wait’.
The online advertiser’s Holy Grail is to make us think we’re reading what we personally selected, whilst actually feeding us a substantial mix of ‘recommendations’ and ads. Some companies are better at this than others. Google does it best, keeping the consumer feeling free and unmanipulated. Twitter definitely does not yet have the art that conceals the art. If you let Twitter into the driving seat, it’ll probably take you to Hell. But if you seize the controls, you can get just as insightful an experience from Twitter as you can from Google. Twitter’s real user controls lie in its search capability. Continue reading Reliable Ways To Cut Out Link Spam in a Twitter Search→
Google has now been the King of Search for about a decade and a half, and most people envisage that the organisation’s supremacy cannot be challenged. However, Google’s basic foundations are now old, and well out of date. Although the Mighty G has continued to tackle attempts to game its system over time, we’re now close to the end of the road. The key problems with Google Search are no longer about controlling spam tactics per se. They’re about the fact that Google is a machine, using an outdated concept, whilst the Internet is increasingly human, and behaves very differently from the way it behaved 20 years ago. Continue reading Google Search Now Has Limited Lifespan→
How strange it is to zip back through the years and revisit old articles from the 1990s – their writers referring to Google as the “The new search engine, Google.com”, and scratching their heads as to how the company was ever going to make any money. The scene, when Google first arrived, was awash with search brands such as AltaVista, Yahoo!, Lycos, Excite, Infoseek, WebCrawler, Hotbot, Dogpile, a host of others, and significantly as regards the future of Google, a new player by the name of GoTo. Continue reading Retrospective: How Google Monopolised The Search Market→
Google is so simple… IF you want what everyone else wants. The world’s favourite search engine has made its fortune second-guessing every phrase you type into it. No matter what you actually want, Google will use its giant, virtual brain to make a judgement on what most people would want, and then give you that content. By default, Google doesn’t simply search for what you type. It searches for what it thinks you mean.
This is actually a huge problem, because whilst for very typical searches, most of the time Google will be right; for more unusual searches, it’s likely to be wrong a high proportion of the time. And not just wrong – very wrong. Continue reading How To Find EVERYTHING on the Internet→