Social networking websites like Twitter have proven to be powerful and popular communication tools. Members can share information and opinions around the world in a matter of seconds. Their ability to inform, mobilize and entertain us is unquestioned. There are those who have other motives, however.
For instance, here are ten ways that people use Twitter to spy on others:
Reading Tweets – Straightforward and obvious, this method elicits enough information from a person’s profile most of the time to make spying on them a moot point. It’s surprising how much one can learn about someone else just 140 characters at a time, when following their tweets.
Follow Them – Unlike other social media such as Facebook, it’s not necessary to establish a reciprocal relationship in order to follow someone. Anyone can keep tabs on you just by opting to do so, with or without your consent or return gesture.
Following Their Followers – it’s often possible to fill in the blanks that a member’s tweets may have, by reading their friends’ tweets, and following them as well. It helps flesh out the overall picture for someone seeking to gather information about a user.
RSS Feed – Apps are abundant which allow you to add a Twitter feed to your desktop or website. This essentially gives a tracking device to a person who wishes to spy on another user. They will get a notification every time that person posts an update.
Hash Tags – Hash tags are a means by which users have categorized their tweets to facilitate a search on specific topics. They have since been misused and abused, but they still provide a good tracking tool for finding tweets related to a given topic, name or phrase.
Programs – Businesses can spy on the competition by following their hash tags and tweets with programs like HootSuite, where they can organize their search data and form profiles of their own for each competitor.
URL’s/Linked Websites – Twitter users who post links to their private or professional websites or blogs are very easily tracked. A reader can simply subscribe to the blog or website and stay abreast of all of your daily doings, which most Tweeters are only too happy to provide.
People – Companies actually hire personnel for the sole purpose of tracking mentions of their corporate name or associated tag words, in order to see what the public is saying about them. Fair enough, but that means you could be followed by any number of strangers, just for mentioning that you stopped off for a Big Mac after shopping at Target.
TwitterSpy – A real time feed of Twitter updates, this app allows users to drop in on anyone who happens to be currently active, and follow their activities. Users’ profiles, photos and locations are provided with the feed.
Monitor @Replies – Stay on top of the entire conversation by monitoring tweets and replies. It’s just one more way to put together a clearer picture of what the object of your interest is up to.
Twitter is a great resource, but you need to be careful and aware as you use it. These are just a few of the ways Twitter can be used to spy on people… How many more can be discovered?