Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Risk Of Auto Unfollow Your Followers On Twitter

Twitter has added methods to the Twitter API that make it a lot easier to get full follower lists and process them.

When you'll decide to unfollow those people who unfollow you, you can probably expect to see many Twitter applications offering the ability to automatically unfollow those people.

If that feature appeals to you, I want you to know the risks you have of using it (if you want to use another service that competes with TweetLater), and how you can protect youself from those risks (if you're using TweetLater's auto unfollow feature).

The Twitter API gives one a full list of the current followers of a Twitter user. One figures out who have unfollowed you by comparing the current list with an older list that was retrieved from the API say an hour or a day ago.

Those folks on the old list who are not on the current list are those who have unfollowed you.

That works very well until there is a glitch in the Twitter API (yes there sometimes are glitches with the API just like the Twitter web interface) and it returns an empty or incomplete list of current followers.

If that happens, it will look as if most, if not all, of your followers have unfollowed you.

Applications that are unprepared for this situation will destroy most, if not all, your follow relationships in a few seconds.

With TweetLater you can't fall to this problem.

To protect you, TweetLater will never unfollow more than 10 people in a single follower comparison.

In other words, if you have 500 followers, and a glitch in the Twitter API says you now have only 100, TweetLater will not unfollow the difference of 400. It will unfollow only 10 of that 400.

If, with the next follower comparison, Twitter still incorrectly says you only have 100 followers, TweetLater will again unfollow only 10 people.

Please be careful who you trust with the application you choose to unfollow your unfollower.

On a personal note, I will never use the auto unfollow feature myself. For me the power of Twitter lies in what you learn from other people, and I don't care whether they follow me or not.

In any case TweetLater can offer you a lot more than unfollow your unfollowers, try it, it's free.

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